Helicopters being used by big political leaders are now being checked thoroughly at take off and landing time.
Reason: Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi believes these could possibly be used to ferry money to candidates. After Quraishi inspected arrangements in the state hanger at Patna’s Jai Prakash Narain airport on Tuesday, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has tightened vigil, while a commissioner-level officer in the income tax department has been designated the supervisory authority.
Besides Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, all political biggies including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) boss Ram Vilas Paswan have been zipping about the state in choppers.
Costs are exorbitant (ranging between R70, 000 to R2 lakh for each hour of flying time), but this has not deterred leaders from taking the aerial route.Most parties, including the ruling Janata Dal (United), RJD, LJP and Congress, have leased two to three helicopters this election season.
The JD (Secular) may well be a minor player in the electoral sweepstakes, but its state leader Dadan Pahalwan is determined to show he is no pushover. Each morning, he has been taking off on his craft on a “hectic tour of canvassing”. Once the commercial taxes and excise minister in the cabinet headed by Lalu Prasad, Pahalwan became the state party chief of the Samajwadi Party - switching ranks once again to join the JD (S).
Keeping a strict watch on the phenomenon of “paid news” during the six-phase elections in Bihar is also a major concern for the Election Commission. Following the EC’s directives, the state government has deputed a senior official to monitor such activities, while district-level monitoring committees have also been constituted.