Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan was on Monday spotted at the at Jayaprakash Narayan International airport in Patna walking down from the tarmac, raising questions over his VIP status.
In the past, Mr Paswan has availed VIP privileges which allowed him to use a ferry vehicle of the airport to go up to the tarmac to board an aircraft.
However, the minister claimed that his VIP status has not expired.
“The facilities given to me at the airport here were for a period ending on December 30 and I could not apply for renewal on time since I have been on the move. Do not worry, I will soon be a VIP again,” he said.
“I do not face any difficulty in walking a few metres,” he added.
Mr Paswan had gone to Patna on Monday morning to attend the last rites of former Union minister Jay Narayan Nishad. He returned to Delhi by an evening flight on the same day.
The incident comes after reports that Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shatrughan Sinha will no longer be treated as a ‘VIP’ at Patna airport.
VIP facilities were extended to Mr Sinha for a period which ended on June 30.
Director of the Jay Prakash Narayan Airport, Rajendra Singh Lahauriya, said the airport has no role in extending or discontinuing such facilities to anybody.
“We get an advice from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) whenever privileges like exemption from frisking and access to the tarmac are extended to anybody. We had sought an advice from the BCAS when the Union minister’s expiry term (VIP facilities) was coming to a close and we were told that there was no order for renewal. So, we had to discontinue the facilities given to him,” Mr Lahauria said.
He said a beneficiary has to apply for grant of VIP facilities for a fixed term and thereafter, for its renewal upon the expiry of the period.
Applications, for both purposes, are moved before the ministry of civil aviation which forwards the same to the BCAS. The airports concerned are then advised by the BCAS to do the needful, he added.