Congress accuses BJP of hogging choppers ahead of polls, 'they've prebooked most fleets,' says Anand Sharma

Congress leaders, including former minister Anand Sharma, said the party has been struggling to find enough helicopters to ferry its leaders ahead of the Lok Sabha election and accused BJP of hogging resources.

Reuters January 24, 2019 11:24:22 IST
Congress accuses BJP of hogging choppers ahead of polls, 'they've prebooked most fleets,' says Anand Sharma
  • Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the BJP has massive resources and money at its disposal

  • The BJP has denied the charge, calling Congress a machine of lies

  • The alleged shortage of aircraft for Congress reflects the widening gap in resources available with both parties

New Delhi: Congress has said it is struggling to find enough helicopters to ferry its leaders ahead of the Lok Sabha election, accusing BJP of hogging resources.

Chartered aircraft are a critical part of elections in India, with a population of 1.3 billion people, where national leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi often address multiple rallies in a single day.

Congress accuses BJP of hogging choppers ahead of polls theyve prebooked most fleets says Anand Sharma

People wave at a helicopter carrying Rahul Gandhi at Jari village in Uttar Pradesh, in 2012. Reuters

But an official of the Congress, which is hoping to make a comeback after a massive electoral thrashing at the hands of the BJP in 2014, told Reuters on Wednesday that the ruling party had already reserved much of the entire available fleet of helicopters in the country for 90 days instead of the usual 45 days.

The official declined to be identified, but senior party leader and former minister Anand Sharma said the BJP had "preempted everything" ahead of the polls due by May.

"Most of them have been cornered by the BJP because they have massive resources and money at their disposal. They’ve pre-booked most of the fleets," Sharma said.

"On a scale of 100 (in terms of resources), they are 90, we are 10."

The BJP denied the charge, calling Congress a "machine of lies".

The alleged shortage of aircraft for Congress reflects the widening gap in resources available with both parties as they head into what will be the world's biggest elections.

In 2017-2018, the BJP's total income including donations stood at Rs 1027 crore compared with Rs 190 crore for Congress, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms, a Delhi-based advocacy group that examines political funding and candidate disclosure forms.

More than half the income for both parties came from unknown sources, an ADR analysis showed.

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