Former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda does not think he alone has to pay the Indian Air Force Rs 54 lakh for using its helicopter during the Uttar Pradesh assembly election in September 1996.
The aircraft was hired by the Janata Dal, which has since split into five parties. Government policy says that a political party pays for use of IAF choppers by its Prime Minister, Gowda explained.
“When I was Prime Minister, I went to campaign for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls at the request of the Janata Dal, whose general secretary requisitioned the chopper,” he told HT in response to reports quoting a series of RTI replies from the air force. Gowda headed the United Front government led by the Janata Dal from 1996 to 1997.
“It was a united Janata Dal that hired the aircraft when Lalu Prasad was its chief, Sharad Yadav was its working president. Now, how can they (the government) claim from me?"
He held that the Janata Dal was divided into five parties —JD(U) under Sharad Yadav, RJD under Lalu, Biju Janata Dal under Naveen Patnaik, Lok Janshakti Party under Ram Vilas Paswan and, of course, “my party, JD(S), under me”.
“But,” he said, “the government wrongly presumed my party, Janata Dal (Secular), alone is successor of that Janata Dal when JD(U) headed by Sharad Yadav succeeded to all the assets and liabilities of the undivided Janata Dal.”