Opposition Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have asked the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to clean on whether an “inebriated” Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann was deplaned from a Delhi-bound flight in Germany’s Frankfurt on Saturday night.
SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal urged the Centre to step in and take up the matter with the German government, while Congress’s Sukhpal Singh Khaira sought clarification on why Mann was deplaned and demanded a public apology from the chief minister for “humiliating Punjab”.
AAP leader Malwinder Singh Kang accused the “dirty tricks departments” of their political opponents of spreading canards to defame Mann. “They cannot digest that Mann is working hard to get investment in Punjab.”
A Punjab government official confirmed Mann did not board the flight as per schedule. AAP’s director of media communications Chander Suta Dogra insisted Mann was a “little unwell” and was due to catch a flight later.
The Hindu quoted an eyewitness saying a person donning a white kurta pajama and resembling Mann boarded the flight along with other passengers but after some time, four or five of them left the aircraft. The eyewitness added the person was “totally drunk” and unable to even stand without support when he boarded Lufthansa’s LH760 Frankfurt-Delhi flight.
The flight was delayed by “three hours” because of a late inbound flight and an aircraft change but it got further delayed as the person and his team’s luggage were taken out amid a heated exchange between some passengers and the cabin crew, the eyewitness was quoted saying.
Mann was on a visit to Germany from September 11 to 18 to seek investments and for strategic tie-ups in sectors such as renewable energy, car manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and advanced agricultural practices. He held meetings with representatives of leading companies like BMW and visited Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin.
In a tweet, Khaira dismissed the AAP response and urged the external affairs ministry to clarify why Mann was deplaned from Frankfurt. “…the Indian counsel general Germany must be apprised of it as their officials accompany a dignitary like Cm Pb? Aap spokespersons are no authority to comment.”
Badal slammed Mann saying he has embarrassed and shamed Punjabis. “Shockingly, Pb govt is mum over these reports involving their CM @BhagwantMann…” He asked AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal to come clean on this issue. “Govt of India must step in as this involves Punjabi & national pride. If he was deplaned, GoI must raise the issue with its German counterpart.”
A Lufthansa spokesperson said the flight from Frankfurt to Delhi departed later than originally planned due to a delayed inbound flight and an aircraft change. “For data protection reasons, we do not provide any information regarding individual passengers.”
Mann faced a lot of flak for his drinking habit before he announced he has become a teetotaller for good in 2019. Kejriwal then called his decision to stop drinking a “great sacrifice” for the people of Punjab and the country.