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Will Ajit Singh bring Air India back on its feet?

Marking the culmination of the negotiations between the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal for an alliance ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, RLD chief Ajit Singh was named the union civil aviation minister.

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Will Ajit Singh bring Air India back on its feet?
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Marking the culmination of the negotiations between the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal for an alliance ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, RLD chief Ajit Singh was named the union civil aviation minister.

After the Jat leader met Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the weekend, and declared his intention to join the UPA at the Centre, his meeting with prime minister Manmohan Singh was a formality. This meeting took place on Monday and after that the portfolio for Singh was finalised.

With Parliament in session, and the PM expected to go abroad during the week, the details of his taking oath as minister have not been worked out, said a senior functionary.

Earlier this ministry was held as an independent charge by NCP’s Praful Patel, whose exit was seen as inevitable because if his inability to help the cash strapped Air India. Tongues had also started wagging over his alleged favours to certain Gulf countries while granting bilateral flying rights.

For Vayalar, this was as an additional charge primarily because of his trade union background. There was an expectation that he would help bring around the fractious employee unions of AI to the negotiating table and get the airline back on its feet. But many believe he never took an active interest in this ministry.

Vayalar’s tenure has also been marked by the entire civil aviation sector plunging into a crisis with most private airlines in the red.
These challenges await Singh who has been cabinet minister under various prime ministers. And apart from making the caste arithmetic work in favour of the Congress in the electoral battle, he would be expected to deliver in reviving the AI as well as the overall aviation sector that is going through turbulent times.

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