NEW DELHI: Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia
said Tuesday he will initiate an inquiry into allegations of Lufthansa
deplaning Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann in Frankfurt because he was “drunk”. Scindia has sought a detailed report from the German carrier.
Opposition parties have alleged that Mann was not allowed to fly Lufthansa’s Frankfurt-Delhi flight this Sunday because he was “too drunk to walk” and it got delayed by four hours as his luggage had to be off-loaded. AAP has dismissed the charges, saying the CM was unwell and so could not take the flight he was originally booked on.
“This was an incident on international soil… will have to verify the details and facts. It’s up to Lufthansa to provide that data. Based on a request which has been sent to me… I will certainly look into the matter,” Scindia told reporters.
For its part, Lufthansa cites EU’s stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from giving any passenger-specific comments. “Our flight from Frankfurt to Delhi (this Sunday) 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,” an airline spokesperson said Monday.
Mann was in Germany from September 11-18 with a delegation of state officials to meet potential investors for Punjab and strategic alliances in various sectors. He was expected to return on Sunday and attend an AAP meeting in Delhi, but couldn’t make it. He was back on Monday.
The opposition Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal
smelled a common link in Mann’s delayed return, the flight delay and allegations of a drunk man being removed from the plane. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal
and Congress legislative party leader Partap Singh Bajwa alleged that the “deplaned” man was CM Mann.
Badal tweeted: “Disturbing media reports quoting co-passengers say Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was deplaned from a Lufthansa flight as he was too drunk to walk. And it led to a 4-hour flight delay. He missed AAP’s national convention. These reports have embarrassed and shamed Punjabis all over the globe.”