Sikkim’s new airport: PM Modi pats his own back with false claims

PM Modi tried to take credit for Sikkim’s new Pakyong airport but the facts are that work on all 35 airports mentioned by the PM started during the UPA regime


NH Web Desk

Sikkim’s new Pakyong airport, whose foundation stone was laid in the year 2009 by the Congress-led UPA Government, was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24. The airport, situated at a height of 4,500 feet around 33 km from state capital, Gangtok, has been constructed at a cost of more than ₹600 crore and covers an area of 990 acres. Earlier, visitors had to take a flight to West Bengal's Bagdogra airport and then travel 124 km uphill to reach Gangtok. Till date, Sikkim is the only state in the country that had no functional airport. The first commercial flight from Pakyong would begin from October 4.

Highlighting it as a big achievement by his government, PM Modi said “India scored a century today as 100 airports have become functional. Of these, 35 airports have been added in the last four years. From Independence till 2014, the country could have only 65 airports, which means one airport a year on an average (67 years since independence to 2014). In the past four years, nine airports have been prepared per year on an average”.

As he has done so many times in the past, the Prime Minister twisted facts to suit his claims. The truth, however, can’t be hidden under such claims or statements. It is a matter of record that work on all the 35 airports mentioned by the Prime Minister in his speech, was started during the Congress-led UPA Government. People know that developing airports, which involves the complicated issue of land acquisition, takes a long time.

It appears that the BJP team providing such facts to the PM are hopelessly naïve because you cannot fool people in this Google age. The gathering was so unresponsive to all these claims of Prime Minister Modi that when he was explaining this arithmetic of 35 airports in four years he had to ask again and again “Samajh aaya ke nahi (Did you understood it or not)”. It was also clear that the organisers did not succeed in attracting the local crowd to the event, as the audience was full of students in school uniforms and among the rest, it was evident that most people besides dignitaries were not locals but brought in from North Indian states.

It is a matter of record that work on all the 35 airports mentioned by the Prime Minister in his speech, was started during the Congress-led UPA Government

In trying to flaunt his regime’s achievements, the Prime Minister as usual threw up claims which are difficult to digest. “Air travel companies have ordered 1,000 planes in the last one year,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Critics say that Modi can even claim that none had mobile phone in 1948 and now, because of him, a big population enjoys the luxury of having a mobile phone. It is obvious that post-liberalisation of the aviation sector in India, a process underway under several governments since the 1990s, air travel has now become a cheaper travel option for Indians than it was prior to economic liberalisation, set off by then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh. Hence companies are investing in the sector. Technological developments have also made planes cheaper.

Critics rightly say that to hide his government’s failures on all fronts, Modi chooses to criticise the 70-year-old rule of previous governments, despite Modi himself as an Indian benefitting from facilities and progress made during that period.

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