Looks like airplanes hate Venkaiah Naidu, the senior BJP leader. A technical snag in an airplane leading to departure delays could be once-in-a-while development for many passengers, but for Mr. Naidu such technical snags are somewhat routine, his confidants would vouchsafe.
And it happened again, on Wednesday. The private aircraft that was to fly Mr. Naidu to Ujjain from Indore developed a technical snag. Mr. Naidu was yet to board the plane, but he had to delay his departure by a few hours. When news broke out in BJP circles in Hyderabad, his partymen indeed heaved collective sigh of relief, but with comment – “Oh! Not again!”.
Whenever Mr Naidu flies, be it a chopper or an airplane, technical snags appear to be common. When Air Deccan was launching its flight operations in Hyderabad in September 2003, fire broke out in one of the engines of the aircraft. Along with Mr Naidu, then the BJP national president, the former union civil aviation minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy too was on the plane along with some journalists.
Two years later, Mr Naidu was flying in a chopper over Bihar, when it force-landed in a forest area dominated by Maoists, on January 31, 2005. Local people recognised Mr Naidu and rushed him out of the area on motorcycles as they apprehended that the Maoist rebels might harm him.
The red rebels rushed to the crashlanded helicopter and blew it up hours after Mr Naidu was driven out of the place. The senior BJP leader, who was on his way to Gaya, was so beholden to the villagers that he ensured that they were given jobs in Chhattisgarh later.
In another instance in 2003, his chopper developed a snag and landed in agricultural fields in Ranchi, followed by another incident in which a private aircraft in which he was travelling strayed off the runway in Sirohi in Rajasthan. The same year, another chopper he was using force landed in a forest area in Nagaland. In 2006, again a chopper developed a malfunction in its hydraulic systems and the pilots had to make an emergency landing.
But Mr Naidu never seems to have developed a flying phobia!