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Campaigners set to take off in MP...literally

Campaigning for the Madhya Pradesh elections on December 1 is literally set to hit the sky.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2003 19:57 IST

Campaigning for the Madhya Pradesh elections on December 1 is literally set to hit the sky with both the main parties in the state spending more than they ever have on hiring helicopters to transport their stars.

The ruling Congress has hired three helicopters and one plane. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has gone two better and hired five helicopters.

"This is the first time that so many helicopters will be used. Earlier, only one or at the most two helicopters were used by each party," said a political observer.

Senior leaders of both the parties and film stars will be campaigning in the remotest corners of this large state and hence the need for so many helicopters for speedy transportation.

The Congress, for instance, has reserved one helicopter exclusively for the tribal areas of the state.

"One helicopter has been reserved for tribal areas like Shajapur, Neemuch, Mandsaur and Ujjain," said a senior leader of the Congress, pointing out that the state had a considerable tribal population and was therefore crucial to the outcome.

Besides, busy leaders who will travel to the state to campaign will need to maximise their time.

Like Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who will reach the state on November 15 and campaign for three days. One helicopter has been reserved for Singh.
Another chopper has been reserved for Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other national leaders, who will need to campaign in all corners of the state, will also require helicopters.

Similarly, the BJP has reserved one helicopter for the exclusive use of its chief ministerial candidate Uma Bharati, sources in the party said.

Several bigwigs from the party will campaign in Madhya Pradesh. Apart from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his deputy L.K. Advani and BJP President Venkaiah Naidu, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other top ministers and leaders will extensively campaign in the state.

With the assembly elections crucial for both the parties, both of which have deep pockets, money is clearly not a factor.

After all, the stakes are equally high. The ruling Congress is determined to come back to power for the third time, and the BJP is equally determined to foil that bid.

Besides Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will also be going to the polls on December 1 in elections that have been dubbed as semi-finals for next year's general elections.

First Published: Nov 14, 2003 19:57 IST