Unfazed by criticism over his stand favouring Centre's decision to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said on Saturday privatisation would help expand its potential and attract investors. The Congress MP had faced flak not only from the Left parties but even from his own party for his stand favouring privatisation of the Trivandrum airport.
"Dear @drthomasisaac, thanks4yr thoughtful criticism of my stand on TvmAirport. I think you miss the point, which is not about revenue.
It is about expanding the potential of the airport to its fullest, thereby providing a better facility to businesses & locals & attracting investors," Tharoor tweeted on Saturday in reply to a tweet by state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac.
Isaac had earlier tweeted that Tharoor was "vocal for primitive accumulation of corporates in contemporary India."
"...Tharoor is so eloquent against primitive accumulation of British in India but so vocal for primitive accumulation of corporates in contemporary India.
When we have a successful model of CIAL in Kochi why does Tharoor consider Adani is indispensable for TVM? #airportprivatisation.
"Thiruvananthapuram airport privatised to Adani rejecting the claim of Kerala govt, even after offer to match Adanis rate.PMOs promise to accept Kerala proposal broken.
People of Kerala will not accept this act of brazen cronyism.#Airportprivatisation," Isaac had tweeted on August 20.
Tharoor in his tweet today said the Airport Authority of India receives Rs 2,500 crore yearly.
"But since you mention revenue, in Delhi airport, @GMR agreed to give 46% revenue share to@AAI_Official, a huge amount the Govt had never made before.
Today for Mumbai and Delhi airports, AAI gets 2500 crores yearly.
And for Thiruvananthapuram, there are the additional benefits of attracting businesses to our city that are now deterred by our poor (& worsening) air connectivity.
The spinoff benefits in employment & income generation will also increase the state govt's tax revenues," Tharoor said.
The Union cabinet had on Wednesday approved the proposal for leasing out airports at Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram through public-private partnership (PPP) for a 50 year period.
Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run six airports -- Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati -- through the PPP model after a competitive bidding process in February 2019.
The CPI(M)-led LDF government and the UDF spearheaded by the opposition Congress had opposed the centre's decision and an all-party meeting called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on August 20 had demanded its withdrawal.
Earlier Tharoor had come out in support of the centre's decision and said "a private entity running the operations competitively is the only way this airport could flourish."
"The people of Thiruvananthapuram want a first-class airport worthy of the city's history, status and potential.In this context, a decision, however, controversial, is preferable to the long delay we have suffered," he had said in a tweet.
However, Congress party state chief Mullappally Ramachandran had criticised Tharoor's stand and said there was no need for anyone to support a corporate giant and the move to privatise the airport was "deplorable".
"We need to protest in order to force the centre to withdraw this decision. None of us need to be in the payroll of these corporate giants," Ramachandran had said on Thursday.