Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday opposed the Centre’s move to sell 76 percent stake in Air India. Taking to Twitter to express her dismay, she wrote, “I am sorry to read in the media about the government inviting expression of interest for selling Air India, the jewel of our nation.”
She said, “We strongly oppose this and want this order to be withdrawn immediately. This government must not be allowed to sell our country.” TMC MP Derek O’Brien also opposed the move. “The proposed disinvestment of Air India is still being examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Transport Tourism and Culture. Stakeholders are being called. Views heard. Report still some time away. How come to these moves from government?” he asked.
The ministry of civil aviation on Wednesday called for bids for sale of 76% stake in the national carrier. However, it placed the condition that the brand 'Air India' will be retained and the control of the national-carrier will be with Indian nationals.
The government in its statement proposed only companies with the minimum net worth of Rs 5,000 crore can bid for Air India and the lead member shall hold at least 51% of paid-up capital. Several domestic airlines like IndiGo, Jet Airways and Vistara have reportedly shown interest in the deal. AI has a total debt of around Rs 52,000 crore, of which about Rs 33,000 crore is on account of working capital loans.