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After flight snag, PM Modi calls Rahul Gandhi to enquire about his safety

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Rahul Gandhi just before leaving for China on Thursday to enquire about his safety after an aircraft carrying the Congress president developed a snag before landing at Hubballi airport in poll-bound Karnataka, party sources said.

Gandhi received the call around 2:30 pm, the sources added.

The Congress chief is on a two-day visit to the state to canvass for his party for the May 12 assembly polls.

“It was a private conversation between the two (over phone). All the authorities concerned were informed about the plane developing snag. After that, the Prime Minister rang up Gandhi enquiring if he was fine,” a source told news agency PTI.

The plane carrying Gandhi and few more people from the national capital to Hubballi developed a technical snag on Thursday, tilting heavily on the left side and the altitude dipped steeply with violent shuddering of the aircraft body at 10:45 am, Gandhi’s close aide Kaushal Vidyarthee wrote in a letter to state Director General of Police Neelmani N Raju. Vidyarthee was also travelling with Gandhi.

The plane landed at the Hubballi airport around 11:25 am in the third attempt, according to the letter, which also said that “the weather was normal and not windy according to the passengers”.

Vidyarthee also tweeted later about the incident, saying the Congress chief had maintained his composure and even tried to calm the co-passengers down.

“Glad to be in a room and getting some rest….thankful for being alive…never had such a frightening experience in my life…plane went into free fall…couldnt believe CP’s composure and calmness as he stood beside pilots trying to save the situation,” Vidyarthee wrote on Twitter.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation is examining the issue, while the state police have registered a complaint.

Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded a thorough probe into the incident. Congress’s communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala described the failure of the auto-pilot mode in the aircraft as “horrific” and “serious” and demanded a probe to find out if there was any “foul play”.

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