New Delhi: Privileges matter and who knows it better than the ruling class with high-flying former civil aviation minister Praful Patel being no exception. Days before he relinquished his post – shifted to heavy industries in the recent Cabinet reshuffle – he changed the rules to ensure that he continues to drive in his car right up to the aircraft at all airports in India, a privilege which was earlier restricted to a handful of individuals including the President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister.
As per a report published in a leading daily, Wednesday, the Civil Aviation Ministry passed the order in a hurry before Patel moved out of the ministry.
“The ball was set rolling on the order two months before Patel left office, and was pushed through in a hurry... On January 21, two days after the Prime Minister shifted Patel to Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises with a Cabinet rank, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) issued a circular saying all former Civil Aviation Ministers still serving as Union Ministers may be allowed access of vehicle up to the tarmac of airports,” the paper reported.
The paper also quoted Patel saying, "Many Cabinet ministers and Chief Ministers are security-exempt and have been granted this privilege. This order was in the works for 4-5 months before I left the ministry."
However, the circular restricted the privilege only to individuals who are currently ministers in the government.
Thus, former civil aviation ministers from the NDA government like Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Ananth Kumar and Shahnawaz Hussain will be stopped at the barricades, but Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was civil aviation minister in the 1990s, will go through, the paper added.
The vehicle access to tarmac was allowed to others, on a temporary basis, in the past too, to leaders like K Rosaiah and J Jayalalithaa on health grounds.