Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been the biggest star campaigner for the BJP in the ongoing assembly polls in five states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa. And, just like in the past, the ‘hard-working’ prime minister has been spending most of his time on campaign trail than in Delhi.
As of now, the prime minister has flown to Punjab twice addressing multiple election rallies there and four times to Uttarakhand even though the state has nearly half the seats of Punjab. That’s because Modi appears to be less confident about retaining power in Punjab than the hill state of Uttarakhand, where the saffron party is hoping to wrest power from the Congress.
In Uttar Pradesh, which has 403 seats and whose electoral outcome on 11 March will decide Modi’s future direction of Modi’s leadership, the prime minister has already addressed nearly 20 rallies. The number of Modi’s visits to Uttar Pradesh is likely to cross 30 by the time, the election process comes to an end on 8 March.
During Bihar the elections, Modi had addressed as many as 31 election rallies.
However, experts say that Modi leaving Delhi so frequently from Delhi causes huge losses to the exchequer as well as putting the lives of thousands of people at risk.
Former Air Force Officer and Janta Ka Reporter’s resident aviation expert, Squadron Leader (retired) Khalid Ehsan, said, “When an Indian VIP leaves for airport, traffic blockage and diversion begins on road at least 30 minutes in advance. All aircraft stop to land or take-off or start or taxi, approximately 20 minutes prior to the planned departure.
“And if the VIP in question gets delayed, which is pretty common, thousands of passengers in aircrafts are forced to wait both in the air and on ground for him or her to arrive at the airport and then takeoff. Many aircrafts hold 100 nm away from Delhi for 15 to 30 minutes, for VIP to clear 100 nm air zone.”
Explaining further, Squadron Leader Ehsan said that that such paraphernalia posed huge safety risk to passengers and added unnecessary costs to exchequer.
“Because the VIP, in this case is the PM, there is stricter security protocol, with vehicles running on both sides of the VIP aircraft escorting it till the takeoff point. Cost of this delay is borne by the airlines; with the in-flight holding charge amounting to Rs 10 lakh per aircraft for a 30 minute wait. This delay also has a telescopic effect on commercial aviation for at least four to five hours.
“Consider 20 arrival and 20 departure from Delhi delayed by 30 minutes for 5 hours. This is equivalent to 100 hours lost in serving Super Ego VIP. And the financial cost reaches a whopping Rs 10 Cr. The same drama is repeated when the VIP returns. In other words, Modi’s each visit to election rally and return costs Indian taxpayers Rs 20 Cr. This has a knock on effect on 200 flights and if we were to assume that each flight has 100 passengers, such VIP visit has just wasted the time of 20,000 tax paying Indians. And what did he do? He made public speeches for his political party in the election. And who suffered? 40,000 Indians in airport and many more on roads.”
Sqn Ldr Ehsan said that it was time these ‘VIPs were banned from Indian roads and using public airports” adding that the important leaders such as Modi ought to have used the Hindon air base than Delhi Airport.
He said, ‘Invariably, VIP departs and arrives in Delhi at peak air traffic hours. Delhi has three runways. All gets closed for service due to VIP security needs. Even the American President doesn’t enjoy such luxury. I think it’s time both the PM And President used Hindon Airbase same way as the American President used USAF Andrews air base.”
While the experts can quantify the losses incurred due to Modi’s VIP arrangements, the losses to India and its ethos suddenly become monumental when one recalls his communal speeches made during such rallies.