‘Probe Jet-Sahara deal’

New Delhi, February 12:

The brouhaha over Jet Airways’ buyout of Sahara Airlines to create India’s largest carrier refuses to die down. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP has urged prime minister Manmohan Singh to have the deal probed.

“In the interests of probity and transparency, we counsel the government to approach the MRTP (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices) Commission to enquire into the ramifications of this move, or set up an empowered committee for the purpose,” Uday Singh, who represents Purnea (Bihar) in the Lok Sabha, said in a letter to the prime minister.

“The buyout, if allowed to go through, will create a worrisome monopoly entity in the sensitive aviation sector in domestic and foreign routes,” the letter stated, adding that this would reduce India’s state-owned carriers to a minority, catalysing their eventual fold-up.

The letter noted that the main arguments offered against privatisation of Indian Airlines and Air India were national security concerns and the pitfalls of having an overbearingly dominant private enterprise in the sector. Jet Airways announced that it would buy Sahara Airlines in a $510 million cash deal that will make it India’s largest airline.