INDIA. Mumbai: Members of Shiv Sena-affiliated workers union Bhartiya Kamgar Sena (BKS) vandalized neon signage of Adani Airport, near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport located at Vile Parle East in northwest Mumbai on Monday.
Shiv Sena, a member of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra, is opposed to renaming the Mumbai airport after the Adani Group. The move came as Shiv Sena workers were irked with the company’s move to erect signage with only their branding whereas the airport is named Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), after the great Maratha warrior king.
A group of BKS members led by BKS secretary Sanjay Kadam reached the airport vicinity and vandalized the neon signboard with the branding of Adani, which recently took over the operations of Mumbai airport from the GVK group. Kadam said the party had fought for the airport to be named after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. “We will not object if it reads Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport operated by Adani instead of Adani Airport. The change should be made at every location in the vicinity,” he added.
BKS president and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant congratulated BKS members who vandalized the signage and said this was a spontaneous reaction. “It was a spontaneous reaction, as putting on board of Adani Airport is an insult to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Marathi manoos,” he said.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), also said that any change in the name of the airport is not acceptable and the Adani Group must ensure that the sentiments of the people are not hurt. NCP national spokesperson and skill development minister Nawab Malik said, “Adani Group took over the airport and the property, but it does not mean they have the right to change its name. The state and the Central government have jointly approved its name as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. If it is being changed to Adani Airport then they are playing with the sentiments of the people. Adani Group should avoid taking any step which will hurt people’s sentiments. The violence in any form cannot be justified but such a situation arises if sentiments are hurt, be it Adani or someone else. We are hopeful that Adani Group will be cautious in this matter,” he added.
Adani Airports Holding Limited (AAHL) said they replaced the previous branding with Adani Airports which complies with the norms and guidelines of the Airport Authority of India (AAI). “In light of the incidents around Adani Airport branding at the Mumbai International Airport, we firmly assure that AAHL has merely replaced the previous branding with Adani Airport branding and that no change has been made to CSMIA’s branding or positioning at the terminal. AAHL will continue to adhere to all the guidelines laid out by the government in the interest of the aviation community at large,” AAHL said in a statement issued on Monday.
This is the second controversy in the past two weeks ever since Adani took over CSMIA. Earlier on July 20, the ruling parties- Shiv Sena and Congress had criticized Adani Group’s rumoured decision to move Mumbai airport’s headquarters from the city to Ahmedabad in Gujarat. The move has also been termed an attempt to reduce the importance of Mumbai. Later, Adani Group denied shifting the headquarters and called it a “rumour”.
On July 13, this year, Adani Group took over the management of the Mumbai International Airport from the control of the GVK Group. The Adani Group controls a 74 percent stake in the CSMIA, with 50.5 percent stakes being bought from GVK Group and 23.5 percent from minority partners, including Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), and Bidvest Group.
Significantly, in the last few years, major investments have been made by the Adani Group in the aviation sector. Many of the country’s major airports are now operated by the Adani Group.