Tejasvi Surya is the elected Member of Parliament from the Bangalore South constituency, contesting from a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket. He is also the National President for the BJP Yuva Morcha. On 10th December 2022, he had visited Thiruchirappalli (Trichy) to address a gathering of the Yuva Morcha and he had even made a tweet about the event.
Addressed BJYM Tamil Nadu State Executive Meeting in Trichy
BJYM is a great platform for capacity building of young political activists
Urged karyakartas to read more, learn new skills, reach out to young of all sections, especially the poorest & cultivate empathetic leadership pic.twitter.com/BB14Q4tWrK
— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) December 10, 2022
The Bangalore South MP had supposedly taken a flight from Chennai to reach Trichy on 10th December 2022 along with BJP Tamil Nadu President K.Annamalai, the former IPS officer turned politician. On 28th December 2022, V.Senthil Balaji, the Minister of Electricity & Prohibition and Excise of Tamil Nadu, took a veiled dig at Annamalai and Tejasvi Surya alleging that the duo had irresponsibly opened the emergency door of a plane which resulted in a 3-hour delay of the flight, and he also questioned why the issue was not reported on the media.
கடந்த 10ஆம் தேதி ‘போட்டோஷாப்’ கட்சியின் மாநிலத் தலைவரும், இளைஞரணியின் தேசியத் தலைவரும் விமானத்தில் கிளம்பும் போது பொறுப்பே இல்லாமல் விமானத்தின் ‘எமர்ஜென்சி’ கதவை திறந்து விளையாடியிருக்கிறார்கள்.
விதிமுறைகளின்படி பயணிகள் விமானத்தில் இருந்து இறக்கி மீண்டும் சோதனை (1/2)
— V.Senthilbalaji (@V_Senthilbalaji) December 29, 2022
Senthil Balaji’s tweet caused a mild tremor in Tamil Nadu political sphere and enough pressure mounted on Annamalai to address the issue. On 2nd January 2023, while addressing a rally in Dharmapuri, Annamalai acknowledged Senthil Balaji’s allegation against him, but he insinuated that such an incident did not happen but did not verbally confirm or deny the incident.
On 3rd January 2023, YouTurn contacted the Indigo Airline as the carrier’s flight 6E 7339 from Chennai to Trichy is the plane that was embroiled in the controversy for clarification. The airline confirmed that a passenger onboard the plane indeed pulled the emergency door lever which resulted in the deboarding of the passengers and a complete security check of the plane was done again as the standard operating procedure which resulted in a 2-3 hour delay and the passenger was made to sit on different seat. The airline declined to confirm the identity of the passenger but confirmed that the incident did take place on the flight from Chennai to Trichy on 10th December 2022. Since we were not able to confirm whether the BJP MP and a state chief were involved in the incident, we did not publish an article at that time.
On Dec 10th, a passenger opened the emergency door creating a scare among passengers in IndiGo 6E flight 6E-7339 from Chennai to Trivandrum. The flight took off after pressurisation checks soon after. DGCA has ordered a probe into the matter: DGCA
— ANI (@ANI) January 17, 2023
The issue went relatively unnoticed for a couple of weeks until it was picked up by North Indian media after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), on 17th January 2023, ordered a probe about the incident, after days of dealing with another horrendous incident where a passenger urinated on a fellow passenger whilst being drunk.
The issue blew up in the national media once again and some news outlets were even initially hesitant to name the BJP MP Tejasvi Surya in their coverage.
Passenger opens emergency exit by mistake when aircraft on ground https://t.co/wdqA14Klet
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) January 17, 2023
Senthil Balaji again tweeted on 17th January 2023 attacking the state BJP President Annamalai.
2 ஆர்வக்கோளாறுகள் விமானத்தின் Emergency கதவை திறந்து விளையாடியது பற்றி டிச-29 அன்று நான் கேள்வியெழுப்பி இருந்தேன். இன்று DGCA விசாரிக்க உத்தரவிட்டுள்ளது. வெளிநாட்டு வாட்ச் கட்டுவது தேசப்பற்றென உருட்டிய பொய்யர், சுதந்திர காற்றை சுவாசிக்க கதவை திறந்தேன் என உருட்டாமல் இருந்தால் சரி. pic.twitter.com/yzWrd97dxs
— V.Senthilbalaji (@V_Senthilbalaji) January 17, 2023
Following the probe, several media outlets picked up the issue and several politicians from the Congress and other opposition parties & activists condemned the incident and asked for a public apology from Tejasvi Surya. The Minister for Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, had confirmed on 18th January 2023, that the plane’s door was indeed opened by the BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, albeit by ‘mistake’, and the minister said that Tejasvi Surya apologized for the incident.
Meanwhile, Annamalai addressed the media in Karnataka today (19th Jan 2023) and he is still maintaining his position that the door was not opened by Tejasvi Surya.
— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) January 19, 2023
However, he gave an alternative explanation to the incident and said that Tejasvi Surya merely noticed a gap in the door and informed to the airhostess about the misalignment of the door and later filled an incident report form. But Annamalai denied that the BJP MP wrote any apology letter, instead merely apologized to the fellow passengers for the delay.
It should be noted that the airline confirmed to us that the ‘passenger’ apologized (Jan 3rd) and the Minister for Civil Aviation too had confirmed that the BJP MP Tejasvi Surya had apologized for his mistake (Jan 18th). However, Annamalai continues to deny it.