Chairman of tractor to technology group Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) on Friday said that this (Air India sale) is now a matter of national pride.
Mahindra's comments were posted on social network -- Twitter -- after the government on Thursday evening announced Air India sale offer garnered no interest from any corporate house.
He said, "I think that zero interest in the sale has demonstrated to the people that tough action towards a turnaround is needed. There will be widespread support for swift & decisive action. This is a political opportunity."
Mahindra said, "This is now a matter of national pride. Time to turn a crisis into opportunity."
He listed a five-point agenda to prepare Air India for a sale.
He said the first point should be to sell the Maharaja but only after a successful turnaround.
A turnaround in this parlance means the airline coming back to profitability.
He further said that the government should now look for an official with the potential and pasion of an E Sreedharan and make them chairman and CEO of the airline.
E Sreedharan has been touted as the man who delivered New Delhi's metro service with remarkable efficiency that got him the moniker of 'metro man'.
Mahindra said that the government must provide full autonomy to the chairman and CEO with a target horizon for a turnaround. "Provide the chairman complete insulation from political pressure," Mahindra said, adding, "Provide full moral support to the chairman for all tough measure that will be required."
On May 31, the government said that Air India's sale offer did not elicit any bidder.
The government was looking forward to better participation in the stake sale, said India's civil aviation secretary, RN Choubey.
New timelines will be decided based on the course of action decided by the alternate mechanism, and various options are available, he added.
The current bid process will not reach the request for proposal (RFP) stage, due to lack of interested parties, Choubey said.
Future course of action
The process now involves going to the evaluation committee and a core group on the divestment process headed by the cabinet secretary and the finance minister-led alternate mechanism or group of ministers.
Chances are that there will be a rebid, but that will be painful because the entire process must be repeated, with fresh terms and conditions.
First Published: IST