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Modi's seaplane ride on Sabarmati river

Last updated on: December 13, 2017 06:28 IST

The prime minister took the first-ever flight by such a craft in the country on the last day of campaigning for the Gujarat polls.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi soared into the clear Ahmedabad sky on a seaplane from the Sabarmati river marking a dramatic end to a gruelling election campaign, the flight created huge waves in Gujarat's politically turbulent waters.

The Bharatiya Janata Party was quick to hail it as a reflection of "vikas" ushered in by the party's governments in the state, while the Congress debunked its development claim.

 

"This is a demonstration of vikas. The whole world is watching how development has taken a leap from the Sabarmati river," BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said.

Congress's president designate Rahul Gandhi was, however, not impressed.

"If he wants to fly on a seaplane, there is nothing wrong about it. But the issue is not the seaplane...it is the distraction (from the real issues). The question is what has been done for Gujarat in the last 22 years," he told a press conference in Ahmedabad.

Modi ended the campaign for the second phase of Gujarat assembly polls in style as he took a seaplane ride from the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam in north Gujarat, and returned after offering prayers at the famous Ambaji Temple and holding a road show.

He boarded the single-engine seaplane from near the Sardar Bridge connecting the old city with Ahmedabad west and flew to Dharoi Dam in Mehsana district.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani claimed it was the first time a seaplane landed on a water body in the country.

Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala mocked Modi's ride and the BJP's claim of it being a reflection of development.

"Vikas ki baatein unko na bhai, kehte hain unko hawa hawai. (They don't like the talk of development. These are people who engage in empty talk)," he tweeted in Hindi, in a parody of the Hawa Hawai song from hit Bollywood flick Mr India.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed the Congress for criticising Modi's seaplane ride, and said the previous Congress rule was marked by "choppers scam".

BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said,"The very talk of development hassles them. The people of Gujarat are happy about the bullet train project, but they (the Congress) are pareshan about it."

The ride, however, was a hit among the locals who chanted "Modi! Modi!" as the craft took off from the Sardar Bridge-end on the Sabarmati riverfront, which the BJP dispensation has been flaunting as a manifestation of development under Modi when he was the state's chief minister.

From Dharoi dam site, the prime minister reached the temple by road after covering a distance of around 50 km. He was greeted by the people of Ambaji town during a roadshow that stretched from the outskirts of the temple town to near the shrine.

The prime minister apparently chose to fly by the seaplane to end his campaign in style after the Ahmedabad district administration yesterday cancelled the roadshows by both Modi and Rahul Gandhi for logistical reasons.

Modi told an election rally on Monday that for the first time in the history of the country a seaplane would land on the Sabarmati river.

Rupani had said it was for the first time in the country's history that a seaplane would land on a water body and that would be the Sabarmati river.

However, Priyanka Chaturvedi, another Congress spokesperson, claimed seaplanes had been flown in the country in the past too. "2010 in Andaman 2015 in Kerala. However let facts never come in the way of BJP and Modi's narrative," she tweeted.

Seaplane pilot defines PM as a good passenger

John Goulet, the pilot of the sea-plane, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew, described him as a good passenger and termed it a historic moment.

Goulet said: "It was a very pleasing experience. I gave him (Modi) safety briefing. He is a very good passenger. Seaplanes are very common in many countries. It should be popular in India also as you have lakes, rivers and the coastal areas.

Captain John Goulet is a Canadian pilot and the President of Goulet Aviation Services. He has over 40 years of experience in international commercial aviation and subject matter expert.

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday called Modi's seaplane journey a 'big revolution' in the field of transport.

He further informed that within three months, the central government would formulate its rules and regulations and start seaplanes' transport in different states of India by mid-2018.

-- ANI

Photographs: Santosh Hirlekar/PTI Photo

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