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NEW DELHI/ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Ilker Ayci said on Tuesday he will not take on the role of chief executive of Tata Group’s Air India, days after the announcement of his appointment led to opposition in India over his previous political links.

Tata last month announced Ayci’s appointment as CEO of previously state-run Air India after taking over the debt-laden airline in January in a $2.4 billion equity and debt deal.

But last week, a Hindu nationalist group close to India’s ruling party called on the government to block Ayci’s appointment citing his previous political links in Turkey, which has strained relations with New Delhi.

Ayci, a former chairman of Turkish Airlines, was an adviser in 1994 to Tayyip Erdogan when the Turkish president was mayor of Istanbul. Ayci said in a statement that in a recent meeting with Tata Chairman N Chandrasekaran he declined to take the post after reading about attempts “to colour my appointment with undesirable colours” in some sections of the Indian media.

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