Chandigarh, Sep 19 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister and AAP leader Bhagwant Mann was deplaned in Frankfurt from a Delhi-bound Lufthansa flight as he was "too drunk to walk".
However, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has refuted the allegations against Mann, saying the Chief Minister returned to Delhi as per schedule.
According to media reports, Mann, who was on a eigh-day trip to Germany till September 18, delayed his departure as he was reportedly in 'an inebriated state'.
However, AAP has strongly denied the charge, saying Mann was not deplaned at the Frankfurt airport. The party termed it as false and frivolous propaganda by political rivals.
A passenger in the flight said in a message, "The CM was not steady on his feet as he had imbibed excessive alcohol and had to be supported by his wife/security."
"Our political opponents are spreading these rumours to defame our CM. They cannot digest that Mann is working hard to bring investments to Punjab. The CM returned as per schedule," the party's chief spokesperson in Punjab, Malwinder Singh Kang, told the media here.
Officials in the Chief Minister's Office claimed that Mann could not board the flight because of emergent health concerns.
Responding to the allegations, Cabinet ministers Kuldeep Dhaliwal and Meet Hayer told the media, "Anyone can have health issues. The Opposition does not have any issue to talk about. That is why they are highlighting this issue which is meaningless and fake."
With many different versions doing the rounds, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal said the reports of the Chief Minister being deplaned from a Lufthansa flight as he was "too drunk to walk" have "embarrassed and shamed Punjabis all over the globe".
"Disturbing media reports quoting co-passengers say Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was deplaned from a Lufthansa flight as he was too drunk to walk. And it led to a 4-hour flight delay. He missed AAP's national convention. These reports have embarrassed & shamed Punjabis all over the globe," Badal tweeted.
He also said that AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal should come clean on the issue.
Badal asked the Indian government to raise the issue with its German counterpart if Mann was deplaned in Frankfurt.
"Shockingly, Punjab government is mum over these reports involving Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. Arvind Kejriwal needs to come clean on this issue. The Government of India must step in as this involves Punjabi and national pride. If he was deplaned, GoI must raise the issue with its German counterpart," Badal tweeted.
Setting aside the charges, AAP's director of media communication, Chander Suta Dogra, said Mann was a little unwell.
Meanwhile, Mann went to Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal's official residence upon his arrival in New Delhi amid the brewing row on Monday.
The Lufthansa Group in a statement said the flight departed late due to "a delayed inbound flight and an aircraft change".
"Our flight from Frankfurt to Delhi departed later than originally planned due to a delayed inbound flight and an aircraft change," it said in a statement.
It added, "For data protection reasons, we do not provide any information regarding individual passengers."