Congress peddles wild conspiracy theories about Rahul’s flight malfunction, but some things don’t add up

At the start of last year, we had carried an analysis about how Rahul Gandhi was copying Kejriwal’s “antics” and as to why would he continue to do so. This was the crux of the argument:

If Kejriwal claims that “Modi is not allowing me to work”, Rahul claims “Modi is not allowing me to speak”. If Kejriwal says Modi is working for Ambani-Adani, Rahul says Modi working only for rich industrialists. Kejriwal attacks Paytm, Rahul says “Paytm means Pay to Modi”. Kejriwal says Modi took bribes, Rahul says Modi took bribes.

After strongly imitating Kejriwal’s modus operandi, some might argue that Rahul and the Congress party have started to imitate Mamata Banerjee by floating aviation based conspiracy theories.

On Thursday the Congress party had filed a complaint with the Karnataka police alleging that a private jet carrying Rahul Gandhi from New Delhi to Hubbali had suffered unexplained malfunctioning.

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As per Rahul’s aide Kaushal K Vidyarthee who was travelling with him, the plane suddenly had a heavy tilt accompanied with a steep drop in altitude. He also alleged that the plane was shuddering violently, with the autopilot too not functioning. The plane finally managed to safely land in Hubbali at about 11:35 AM on Thursday.

Going by Vidyarthee’s description, the ordeal was indeed shocking and it was relieving to note that everyone on board was safe. The complaint though didn’t stop at making objective observations, but also decided to plunge into the realm of conspiracy theories.

The complaint alleged that the “suspicious and faulty performance of the aircraft” meant that “serious questions relating to intentional tampering” needed to be investigated. After again adding the angle of “intentional tampering”, the complaint raised serious questions over aviation safety.

Vidyarthee though didn’t stop at that and used this as an opportunity to praise Rahul by claiming that while the plane was in a free-fall, the Congress President managed to calmly stand beside the airline pilots to “save the situation”. Even Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala made a similar claim about Rahul’s calmness.

With regards to the technical snag, sources quoted in a TOI report though looked downplayed the incident by claiming that the plane’s autopilot failed following which the pilots took manual control and the plane landed safely.

The said source then fully contradicted the claims in the complaint by claiming that Rahul was informed about the snag only after the plane had landed and that there was no panic among the co-passengers during the flight duration. If indeed true then it negates some claims made in the complaint and the supposed heroics of Rahul, where he managed to enter the cockpit and stand beside the pilots during their ordeal.

With regards to the severity of the incident, the report quoted a chartered operator who claimed that such malfunctions don’t lead to accidents. Even a senior DGCA official was quoted as saying that such autopilot failures aren’t uncommon.

Besides the report, even various Twitter users questioned the sensational claims made by the Congress:

This whole affair raises the question whether the situation was indeed as severe as the complaint claims or did the party decide to hype up the incident, to garner attention and portray Rahul as some kind of a hero.

If the latter is indeed the case, then it might be intriguing to know whether the Congress decided to take a leaf out of Mamata Banerjee’s playbook, with regards to the TMC alleging a conspiracy to kill the West Bengal CM, after her flight had hovered for about 30 minutes over Kolkata’s airspace owing to traffic congestion.

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