Are private and chartered aircrafts used regularly by politicians for travel?
On the basis of investigation and analysis of the information obtained from airports under Airports Authority of India (AAI) using Right to Information (RTI) Act, Cobrapost has claimed that many politicians, sometimes accompanied by friend(s) or relatives, have used aircraft owned by corporate houses for journeys. Instances where the aircraft is not registered with civil aviation authority DGCA have also come to notice. The names of over 100 politicians who used such services include the senior politicians from all across the political spectrum. As per the information obtained:-
· Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), flew a Krishnapatnam Port craft with call sign VT-NAV thrice on April 21, 2014. However, Navayuga Engineering also said Naidu flew in its aircraft with the same call sign VT-NAV on April 21 and 22, 2014. But as the DGCA documents accessed by Cobrapost, the aircraft VT-NAV was not figuring on the list of ‘non-scheduled operators permit holder’. It was not known how the AAI had permitted the aircraft to fly without a DGCA permit.
· Praful Patel (Congress) took several flights from Vadodara on aircrafts owned by various charter services and corporate houses.
· Veerappa Moily (Congress), who was then working as oil, power and corporate affairs minister, took a corporate charter plane from Mangalore to Delhi with wife on September 9, 2012.
· Jyotiraditya Scindia (Congress), flew on board a Jaypee Group chartered flight from Vadodara on December 7 and 8, 2012. He went from Vadodara to Delhi in a Span Group nine-seater jet on December 8.
· Shivraj Singh Chouhan (BJP) flew with six others from Jaipur to Bhopal on a Ligare Aviation Airking B-200 on March 7, 2014. He flew with wife and sons from Mangalore to Ojar in Maharashtra for a holiday on December 31, 2011. Information shows that he has also used the services of Business Jet India, SRC Aviation, Jaypee Group and Orbit Aviation craft.
· Raman Singh (BJP) used the plane of a media company for personal use on at least three occasions personal use between June and August 2013.
Vijay Bahuguna (Congress), used charter flights of corporate house on January 23, 2014, to fly from Dehradun to Delhi with son, daughter-in-law and other Congress leader Rajeev Shukla. Along with his revenue minister Yashpal Arya, he flew from Dehradun to GTC Helipad on June 14, 2013, in an Escorts Group plane. Between September and December 2013, he flew between Dehradun and Delhi several times using Ligare Aviation and Air Charter Services flights sometimes with his family.
· Sachin Pilot (Congress), moved with family from Tirupati to Delhi on January 7, 2014 in a chartered flight by a corporate house.
· Pinaki Misra (BJD) travelled with Triveni Earthmovers MD B Prabhakaran from Ranchi to Delhi on January 11, 2013, in an SRC Aviation plane. He contended that as an advocate he appears in various high courts and it is the client's responsibility to pay for his passage apart from the professional fees.
Other prominent flyers include:-
· Congress president Sonia Gandhi,
· Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi,
· BJP president Rajnath Singh,
· LK Advani (BJP),
· Sharad Pawar (NCP),
· Sushma Swaraj (BJP),
· Mukul Roy (Trinamool Congress)
· Prakash Singh Badal (SAD),
· BS Yedyurappa (BJP),
· Kiran Kumar Reddy (Congress),
· Mukul Wasnik (Congress), and
· Mayawati (BSP)
It is reported that most of these flights would have costed between Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 6 lakhs per flight. As per the data obtained from the Registrar of Companies, many of these charter companies are running huge losses. It has been alleged that some of the politicians did not account for these expenses in their returns to the Election Commission for the journeys undertaken during or just before elections. Further, many politicians have reportedly also used government aircraft for personal use, sometimes with families.