Thursday, April 08, 2021

BJP drives chartered flight traffic

Calcutta: This election, the city airport has handled the highest number of chartered planes and helicopters compared with any other elections in Bengal and nine out of 10 of those were hired by the BJP, officials at the airport said.

In March, the airport had handled 140 chartered planes and helicopters, said officials. Around 30 per cent of them were helicopters and the rest were aircraft with five to 15 seats. The choppers used were mostly five-seater. 

“Most of the chartered planes and helicopters were hired by political parties. Only a few were used for non-poll purposes like air ambulances,” said an official.

At least two officials working for more than 25 years at the airport said they had never seen so many chartered planes and helicopters ferrying political leaders to and from Calcutta during any election. 

The state BJP has formed a six-member team to coordinate the operation of these planes and helicopters. Leaders of the party said this was the first time such a team has been formed because so many leaders from outside were coming to campaign in Bengal. 

“This March we handled 140 chartered planes and helicopters and 90 per cent of those were used by BJP leaders. The chartered planes were mostly used to fly leaders from Delhi to Calcutta and the helicopters were used to ferry them to districts,” said an official at the airport. 

Airport sources said the leaders who used chartered planes and choppers included Union home minister Amit Shah, BJP Bengal minder Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP president J.P. Nadda, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Smriti Irani. 

Some local leaders, too, flew to districts on helicopters to campaign.

Among leaders of other parties, Bengal Pradesh Congress president and leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury, has flown on a chartered plane once to campaign for the ongoing elections, said airport sources. Among Trinamul Congress leaders, the sources said, only chief minister Mamata Banerjee has flown on hired helicopters to campaign.

08/04/21 Sanjay Mandal, Arkamoy Datta Majumdar/Telegraph


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