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Is the airline IndiGo badly missing EP Jayarajan, who has been boycotting its flights since 13 June last year?
Though there is no official statement in this regard from the airline company, the all-powerful convenor of Kerala’s ruling coalition LDF claims as much.
According to the CPI(M) Central Committee member and former Kerala minister, senior officials of the company are calling him regularly and requesting him to call off the boycott.
Jayarajan says the officials are referring to him as a frequent flier and an esteemed customer, whose absence is causing them deep distress.
And he claims his reply to the officials is always thus: An unconditional apology in writing for the three-week-long travel ban enforced on him by the company on 13 June, 2022.
In an angry response to the travelling ban, Jayarajan had then declared that neither he nor his close family would travel by IndiGo for the rest of their lives.
The company temporarily barred Jayarajan and two Youth Congress activists from flying with it over their unruly behaviour onboard a 13 June Kannur-Thiruvananthapuram flight that also had Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on it.
The ban was up to three weeks for Jayarajan from travelling on international and domestic flights of IndiGo, while a travel ban of two weeks was slapped on the Youth Congress workers.
The two Congress activists protested against Vijayan aboard the aircraft when it landed at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport. They raised slogans and rushed towards Vijayan, citing his alleged role in the infamous gold-smuggling case.
Jayarajan, accompanying the chief minister, blocked the aisle and pushed back the Youth Congress’ Kannur district secretary Naveen Kumar and Mattannur block president Farzeen Majeed. They claimed Jayarajan also beat them up.
Since he declared a boycott of IndiGo flights, Jayarajan has been facing a lot of hardships in terms of mobility.
The leader, who has numerous health issues, is required to frequently travel between the state capital Thiruvananthapuram and his native, Kannur, to coordinate the ruling front.
As IndiGo is the lone flight operator between the two places, he has to now travel by train.
To attend regular party meetings in Delhi as a Central Committee member, Jayarajan travels by road to airports in Kozhikode and Kochi to board non-IndiGo flights. IndiGo has a near-monopoly on the Kannur-Delhi air route.
Political rivals of Jayarajan say he misses IndiGo worse than the airline misses him.
The latest developments indicate his wish to somehow end the boycott without losing face and avoid the discomfort of travelling by train, they say.