New Delhi/Ernakulam: The Union government’s decision last week to hand over the international airport at Thiruvananthapuram to Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL), which won operating rights in an auction, has reached a political flashpoint between the state and the Centre.

The assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution against the 50-year contract to the private developer, a move the Centre termed “regressive and far removed from public opinion”.

The Kerala assembly’s resolution does not reflect the people’s wishes, said V. Muraleedharan, minister of state for external affairs. Legislators of the state ought to echo public sentiment, Muraleedharan said in an interview.

“Today’s resolution is against the mood and the opinion of the people… The public-private partnership (PPP) model will help in the development of Thiruvananthapuram, as well as the airport in the city. Any decision against that shows that the state administration is far removed from the opinion and the mood of the people,” said the minister.

The airport was auctioned in a manner agreed to by the state, Muraleedharan said. “Discussions were held with the state and the procedure, which includes a right of first refusal, was accepted by the state. It is not unilateral at all.”

The Union cabinet last week cleared the award of the airports at Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati to AEL, which won these in an auction last year. Airports Authority of India, which operates these airports, will get an upfront amount of 1,070 crore.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday requesting him to reconsider the decision to hand over the airport to the private player as the state has enough experience to manage airports efficiently. The state had on Friday filed an application in Kerala high court seeking a stay on all further proceedings based on the Centre’s order. Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday that the award to AEL will be subject to the outcome of this petition.

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