Chandigarh’s first International flight fuels fight between Haryana, Punjab

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On Thursday, the first international flight took off from the gleaming, renovated airport in Chandigarh, with Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal on board.

In Haryana, it was Chief Minister ML Khattar’s temper that soared.

As Mr Badal took the inaugural flight to Sharjah after a grand opening, the Haryana chief minister shot off a letter to his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal.

Haryana has contributed an equal share of Rs. 200 crore to transform the Chandigarh airport into an international one, Mr Khattar reminded in a strongly-worded letter.

The BJP rules both states, but in Punjab, it is junior partner to Mr Badal’s Akali Dal.

Khattar said in the letter that he was “deeply anguished” by the Punjab government’s advertisements christening the Chandigarh airport as “Mohali International Airport”.

The name was flashed in giant hoardings that boasted that Punjab is the only state with two international airports; the other one is at Amritsar.

The hoardings were put up all the way to the airport.

Khattar called Punjab’s assertion factually incorrect. “The final nomenclature of the airport was yet to be decided by the Union Government,” he said in the letter.

Punjab and Haryana have been locked in a bitter row over a name for the new international airport.

Punjab wants it to be named after revolutionary freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh, but the BJP government in Haryana has proposed naming it after Mangal Sein, a party leader and a former deputy chief minister of the state.

At the launch of the first international flight, union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that the centre has not finalised a name yet.

The Airports Authority of India has 51 per cent equity partnership in the airport and the two state governments have 24.5 percent each.

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