In a significant departure from the past, BJP president Amit Shah has decided to do away with the culture of its top leaders hiring out private jets for travel. Leading by example, Shah has already given up the perk, party sources said.
The new BJP head has asked his colleagues to instead take commercial flights and trains. The only exception to the new rule is when leaders have to campaign in poll-bound states.
The thinking behind the new guideline, which was discreetly issued to BJP leaders, is that it will not only reduce party expenses but help politicians connect with the electorate.
“… it sends a good message of austerity to the public and the leaders remain connected to the grassroots,” said a BJP leader.
Past BJP chiefs had advised Shah to retain the perk — former chiefs from LK Advani onwards have used this facility — but he prefers to travel cheap.
He used overnight train journeys in Uttar Pradesh to connect with the local party workers, meeting them in the train late in the night, to resolve local issues,” said a BJP leader.
Across political spectrum, hiring out a private jet or helicopter, becomes necessary especially when a politician has to host multiple rallies a day, and that too in far-off inaccessible areas.
The favoured aircraft of top politicians are: Bombardier Challenger, Hawker Beechcraft Executive jets, Beechcraft Premier I jet and Bell 427 helicopter.
The demand predictably peaks during election season. The BJP, Congress and other party leaders crisscross the nation running up massive tabs and the plethora of private charter companies that lease out the aircraft make a killing. Shah’s new rule might just put a damper on their business.