Indian political party denies reports that drunk leader was taken off plane

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India’s chief minister of Punjab has been at the center of controversy after opposition political parties claimed the politician had been taken off a Lufthansa plane in Germany for being drunk.

Bhagwant Mann of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was in Germany from September 11 to September 18 on a planned trip to meet foreign investors.

The trip was his first foreign visit since he became prime minister of the border state earlier this year.

On Monday, opposition leaders accused Mann of delaying Lufthansa’s flight to Delhi because of his drunkenness.

In a tweet, Sukhbir Singh Badal, opposition member Shiromani Akali Dal said: “Disconcerting media reports quoting fellow passengers say Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was taken off a Lufthansa flight for being too drunk to walk. And it led to a flight delay of 4 hours. He missed the AAP national convention. These reports have embarrassed and shamed Punjabis around the world.”

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Mr Badal referred to social media accounts of fellow passengers who claimed that Mr Mann was intoxicated and “unsteady on his feet” and needed to be supported by his wife and security personnel.

The passenger added that the flight had been delayed for more than 4 hours because the Prime Minister’s baggage that had been added to the flight had to be removed as he had been asked to leave the plane.

Mr Badal said the government of Punjab must make it clear and asked the federal government to intervene.

“Had he disembarked, GoI . would [Government of India] should raise the issue with its German counterpart.”

The allegations were soon picked up by the opposition party, which called the incident “a great shame”.

The AAP, meanwhile, lashed out at the opposition, dismissing the messages as “propaganda”.

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Malwinder Singh Kang, AAP spokesman, told reporters at a press conference: “The prime minister returned on September 19 as scheduled. All these social media posts are propaganda.

“The opposition is upset because Mr. Mann is actually getting some investment from his overseas trip… you can also contact Lufthansa airlines.”

In a statement later Monday, the airline said the plane had been delayed but did not say whether Mr Mann was drunk or not.

“Our flight from Frankfurt to Delhi departed later than originally planned due to a delayed inbound flight and a plane change. Sincerely, Lufthansa said on Twitter.

In a statement to The Bharat Express News, Punjab’s media communications director Suta Dogra also denied the allegations as “baseless and without a shred of evidence”.

“These leaders cannot tolerate a CM from humble backgrounds and are making wild accusations against him. They cannot tolerate the government working so hard. Where’s the proof? He took another flight because he was unwell,” she said.

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Mr Mann became the state’s chief minister in March, an event that brought the AAP to power in two Indian states.

The party, also in power in the capital New Delhi, is seeking a national role in the 2023 general election and will face Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming state elections in Gujarat. and Himachal Pradesh later this year. .

In 2019, a member of parliament from Sangrur in Punjab, Mr Mann, who was under fire from the opposition in the state for his “alcohol problem”, vowed to stop drinking alcohol during a meeting attended by the party leader and the Delhi chief minister. Arvind Kejriwal.

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