PATEL IN DOCK … NCP leader Praful Patel summoned by ED in huge aviation scam; evidence crops up


NEW DELHI: Former minister for Civil Aviation in the UPA government, NCP leader Praful Patel, has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), asking him to appear before it next week as part of an investigation into money laundering and loss suffered by Air India in a Rs 200crore-plus aviation scam. Despite serious allegations of a virtual chasing of eldorado by Patel during his ministership, the Modi government did nothing against him in its first term.

Considering the connections that Patel maintains, nothing much is expected from the present ED move too.

The ED summons is in relation to some revelations made by arrested aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar. A case has been filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Investigations would centre around Emirates Airline and Air Arabia. Allegations swirled in the past that huge bribes were taken from foreign aviation companies during Patel’s time as aviation minister to grant them landing rights in India.

Several actions of Patel had allegedly resulted in huge losses to Air India and Air India Express, as he acted in ways as to favour private airlines. There are assumptions that Air India and Air India Express were led to huge losses by Patel so that his personal interests were satisfied. Patel was also involved in the construction of the new airport in New Delhi, and there are huge allegations in this respect too.

The first NDA government led by Modi soft-pedalled such issues. Investigations in relation to huge scams got stalled in legal hassles created by the accused individuals and agencies, and the Modi government did too little to overcome such situations. Patel is a Gujarati settled in Gondia region of Madhya Pradesh, and has developed a huge business empire there. His family has traditionally been in some kind or other of business. IHN-NN

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