New Delhi: Owning "moral responsibility"
for the Mangalore air crash, Civil Aviation Minister Praful
Patel is Saturday night believed to have offered to resign to Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, who reportedly turned down the offer.
Patel, who met Singh after visiting the crash site in
Mangalore, conveyed his "deep sense of anguish" over the
tragedy in which 158 people lost their lives.
He is understood to have told Singh that over the last
six years, he had done a lot for the development of civil
aviation sector and whatever might have been the cause of the
accident, he had "moral responsibility" for the mishap as the
head of the "civil aviation family".
Singh is believed to have told Patel that there was no
need for him to resign and that he should focus on facing the
PMO officials declined to comment.
Patel, on emerging from the 30-minute meeting with
Singh, said he felt "personally morally responsible for such a sad
and tragic incident".
Asked by reporters as to what the Prime Minister`s
direction to him was, he said Singh told him "not to be
overcome by the situation" but to face it.
"Certain things are beyond our control... If there are
any mistakes to be corrected, they should be corrected," Patel
quoted Singh as telling him.
When pressed by reporters as to whether he offered to
quit, Patel said, "All issues between me and the Prime
Minister need not be discussed in public."
Patel said he briefed the Prime Minister on all the
aspects of the crash.
"It is my duty to brief the honourable Prime Minister
about the tragic accident. I briefed him on all the aspects of
the accident," he said.
The minister said that the Prime Minister had spoken to
him in the morning after the air crash following which he
travelled to Mangalore to oversee the search and rescue
Patel refused to comment on any conjecture whether the
accident was a result of pilot error.
"I would wait for the report of the Directorate General
of Civil Aviation before making any comment on this matter,"
Patel said technically there was nothing wrong with the
aircraft which was relatively new.
On all counts, technical or otherwise, situation of both
the aircraft and airport appeared normal, he said.
Even when the pilot was given clearance for landing by
the Air Traffic Control he did not report any shortcoming
about the aircraft, Patel said.
The minister said an inquiry into the accident has been
initiated by the DGCA.