Vilas Muttemwar hits out at Patel

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Nagpur, Feb 6 (UNI) Union Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy Vilas Muttemwar today fired a broadside at his colleague in the central cabinet Praful Patel, alleging he had been 'misleading' over clearance of transfer of the city airport to the ambitious Multi-Modal International Air Passenger and Cargo Hub at Nagpur (MIHAN).

Speaking to reporters here, Mr Muttemwar said Mr Patel, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, had wrongly claimed that Finance minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had opposed the proposed transfer when the matter came up for discussion before the union cabinet last month.

''How could have they opposed the transfer when the entire cabinet is in favour of the MIHAN project? They all want the project to be completed,'' he said.

''Mr Patel's claim that he had worked hard to get all the hurdles in the way of the project cleared is also wrong. It was me who met all the ministers concerned to clear the path,'' Mr Muttemwar claimed. If Mr Patel had, indeed, worked so hard, then why was the project delayed for over four years and not cleared in 2003 itself, when it was first conceived, he said.

The Minister of State for Civil Aviation was alone to be blamed for the delay and hence, therefore, had no right to make any comment, the MP from Nagpur said.

''The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader's comment that I was a frustrated person as I did not have a good portfolio was also inappropriate. In the Congress, we do not ask for a portfolio, but work with the one given to us,'' Mr Muttemwar said, adding that after all, he was a directly elected representative, while Mr Patel was a member of the Rajya Sabha. ''I am not in Parliament through the 'managing manual,' I am there on my merit,'' he quipped.

Mr Muttemwar said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had themselves written to him, complimenting him on the union cabinet's approval for transferring the city airport to MIHAN. ''The Prime Minister and Congress President have also appreciated my efforts in following up the matter,'' he said.

The Union cabinet had last month granted, in principle, clearance to the proposal to transfer the city airport for MIHAN. The airport is to be transferred to a joint venture company with equity participation by the Government of Maharashtra and Airports Authority of India (AAI).

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