By NewsGram Staff Writer
In yet another case of the special treatment meted out to the politicians, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday made passengers on board an Air India flight to Newark wait for almost an hour.
Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who flew to the US caused much confusion as he had only carried his new passport, while the US visa was stamped in his old one.
The seven-member delegation travelling with the CM reached the airport about 45 minutes before departure.
“It was only when he submitted his passport at the check-in counter for a boarding pass that Pardeshi realized that he did not have the US visa with him”, an airline source told TOI.
The secretary immediately called up his residence and arranged for his old passport to be brought to the airport.
As part of a VIP entourage, Pardeshi was issued a boarding pass. Whereas had he been a commoner, the airline would not have issued a boarding pass till the time the passport with the valid US visa was not submitted at the airline counter.
A protocol officer is always assigned to receive the chief minister at the airport, ensure he has a VIP room, takes care of his check-in, luggage, immigration and sees him off till the aircraft.
The protocol officer took the boarding passes of all members, including Pardeshi for requisite clearances from the CISF and immigration authorities.
Again, the fact that Pardeshi was travelling with a VIP helped as he was allowed to walk through Indian immigration, despite not having a valid visa for travel to the US.
The airline had begun boarding at 12.15 am and in an hour all the 250-odd passengers, except Pardeshi, were seated onboard the flight.
The boarding officer and special handling officer informed the CM about the situation but the CM insisted that he would travel only with his delegation.
“We decided to wait for Pardeshi for some time so that the need to offload baggage by opening the cargo section of the Boeing 777 could be avoided”, said the airline source.
Meanwhile minister of state for civil aviation, Mahesh Sharma refused to admit to the delay caused by the Devendra Fadnavis.
“I have spoken to the Maharashtra chief minister and officials concerned in Air India. Our findings are that the flight was not delayed for the principal secretary to CM. ATC and other technical issues during the operations caused delay,” Sharma told TOI.