No differences among ministers on Jet-Etihad deal: PMO

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Amid raging controversy over the Rs.2,000 crore deal between Jet Airways and Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Tuesday said there are no differences among ministers on the issue and the proposal would be cleared as per usual practice.

“This is a matter between private parties which needs to be approved by the concerned agencies as per the policies and laws in place,” the PMO said in a statement.

“This is not an agreement between governments and there is no question either backtracking from or disowning this proposal as this is not an agreement with the government,” it said.

The PMO said concerned departments and agencies would look into the proposal and would deal with it as per usual practice.

Some parliamentarians and political parties, including the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have voiced opposition to the deal and sought an explanation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“It seems now there is something wrong in this deal as well. We are not against FDI in aviation, but if there is a scam in FDI, we will oppose it,” BJP spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said.

“The way the civil aviation minister is pointing towards the PMO and cabinet, the prime minister should clear the situation in front of the country,” he said.

The BJP leader compared it with the alleged scandal in allocation of coal blocks.

A parliamentary standing committee headed by Communist Party of India-Marxist MP Sitaram Yechury first raised objection to the deal.

After that, senior MPs Jaswant Singh and Dinesh Trivedi and Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy also wrote letters to the prime minister over the deal.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has agreed to buy 24 percent stake in Jet Airways. The deal is expected to garner around Rs.2,058 crore ($379 million) for Jet Airways, which, the company said, will enable it to service its debts and provide passengers with better connectivity.

Earlier Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh defended deal saying the investment is important for India and opposition to the pact is politically motivated.

“Those opposing the deal are long on politics and short on facts,” Ajit Singh told reporters when asked about the widespread opposition to the deal.

“It is such an important deal, the first big deal in civil aviation ministry. In terms of FDI, it is bigger than any other deal this year. There are so many dimensions to it,” Ajit Singh said.

The PMO also clarified that there was no question of any U-turn on the air service agreement between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The Prime Minister is neither washing his hands off the Bilateral Air Services Agreement nor is the Prime Minister’s Office trying to do a U-turn on the issue now,” the statement said.

On reported disagreements among various ministries on the India-UAE air services agreements, the PMO said: “The allegations in some media are factually incorrect and baseless.”

“There is absolutely no disagreement within the government or between the ministers and the Prime Minister on the matter,” it added.

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