Just about a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Chandigarh International Airport, its first flight took off for Sharjah on Thursday, conveying Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal.
Alongside him was a substantial gathering – eight ministers and officers. An 18-member delegation of Confederation of Indian Industries and five individuals from the Mohali Industries Association were additionally onboard the Air India aircraft.
The Punjab government defended the trek calling it a visit to the Gulf to draw in speculation and help business with the UAE. The opposition has called it a waste of public money.
Describing the occasion as a Red Letter day, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said it was a step towards the state emerging as “hub of air connectivity”, which would immensely benefit the Punjabi Diaspora settled across the globe.
Asked about Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal’s trip to Sharjah, Congress state unit president Captain Amarinder Singh said, “He is in the habit of flying abroad, he has just come back from one. Why doesn’t he stay there?”
But Sukhbir Badal tried to steer clear of politics, saying, “I don’t understand why there has to be politics on this. We are going there to meet investors. We will meet fly Dubai, Emirates to start operations from here.”
The mega event also saw a twist, with Haryana raising strong objection on Punjab Government claiming the airport as “Mohali” international airport.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar shot off a semi-official letter to his Punjab counterpart, saying, “I am deeply anguished by the advertisements that appeared in various newspapers today terming the Chandigarh International Airport as Mohali International Airport. This is factually incorrect”.
In his address too, Chief Minister Badal had dubbed the airport “Mohali International Airport”. He said the international Airport at “Mohali”, the second in the state after Amritsar, was the result of persistent efforts made by the state government.