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Tata-Air India deal: Jairam Ramesh shares Indira Gandhi’s letter to JRD Tata after being removed as chairman

Together Tata Sons set to regain control of Air IndiaSenior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh shared a letter written by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, addressed to airline founder JRD Tata, when he was asked to step down as chairman.

“In February 1978, JRD Tata was summarily removed as the chairman of Air India by the Morarji Desai government – a position he occupied since March 1953. Here is an exchange that took place between JRD and Indira Gandhi. Hua, who was out of power at that time. His letter was handwritten,” the Congress leader tweeted.

On February 1, 1978, the then Morarji Desai government removed Chairman JRD Tata from the boards of Air India and Indian Airlines. He was later reinstated on the board of both airlines by Indira Gandhi in April 1980. But he did not return as chairman.

In a handwritten letter in 1978, Gandhi expressed his condolences for the government’s decision and lauded Tata’s efforts in building the airline. “You were not the only president, but the founder and nurturer who felt deeply personal concern,” his note read. “It was this and the meticulous care you gave to the smallest detail, including the hostess’s saris, that raised Air-India internationally and indeed at the top of the list.”

“We are proud of you and the airline. No one can take this satisfaction from you or reduce the government’s debt in this regard,” she wrote. Acknowledging the “misunderstanding” between them, Gandhi stated that they had to operate under a lot of “pressure”, and also indicated that there was “rivalry within the Ministry of Civil Aviation”.

Ramesh also shared Tata’s response to the letter sent almost two weeks later. “I was impressed by your kind reference about the role you played in building the airline. I was fortunate to have the loyalty and enthusiasm of my colleagues and employees and the support I received from the government, without which I could have achieved very little,” he said.

The government, in 1953, took control of the airline from the Tata Group, which had established the carrier as Tata Airlines in 1932.

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