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TMC writes to EC on use of choppers by Modi, Sonia

April 02, 2014 21:39 IST

Trinamool Congress on Wednesday wrote a letter to the Election Commission asking how BJP leader Narendra Modi and Congress President Sonia Gandhi could use Pawan Hans helicopters for public meetings contrary to its instructions, even as party chief Mamata Banerjee had to cancel a trip to Assam for lack of one.

Stating that helicopters owned by a public sector undertakings could not be used by a political party, TMC General Secretary Mukul Roy, in the letter to Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath stated, "Kindly issue clarification failing which we will be deprived of natural justice under the statute."

Roy referred to BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi using a Pawan Hans helicopter for attending a public meeting at Bareli in UP on Tuesday.

"It is reported that Mrs Sonia Gandhi was also seen on TV channels using a Pawan Hans helicopter in Karnataka on March 30," the letter stated.

"If the above facts are correct, kindly issue a corrigendum to your instruction dated 9th April, 2009," it stated.

The letter requested the EC to clarify if a privately owned commercial helicopter leased out to a government undertaking like Pawan Hans Ltd could be used as a private helicopter for election campaign by political functionaries including the chief minister.

The TMC letter also referred to EC's instruction dated April 9, 2009 which stated that aircraft or helicopter owned by government and public sector undertakings should not be used by political functionaries during election campaign.

Roy said the party was yet to get a response from the EC to its earlier letter of March 31.

He also said the party chief was forced to cancel an election meeting during the day in Assam for lack of a helicopter.

"Our party chief had to cancel her election meeting at Barpeta in Assam due to non-availability of a helicopter since it is a five-hour journey by road from Guwahati to the venue," Roy said without elaborating.

State Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta told reporters that a copy of the letter had been received.

"As soon as they get instruction from the Election Commission office in Delhi we will let you know," he said.

On Tuesday, since a helicopter was unavailable, Banerjee, the West Bengal Chief Minister, had to travel by road to Shantir Bazar in Tripura, nearly 100 km from state capital Agartala for campaigning.

Earlier on March 31, Banerjee was forced to travel by car to attend a party workers' meeting because of a snag in a helicopter that was to take her to West Midnapur district.

Later, she had said she would find out whether the snag was technical or had a political angle.

The state government last year signed a MoU with Pawan Hans to connect Kolkata and the districts by air.

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