Jharkhand political crises fuel air travel

According to sources in the government, chartered planes have been hired on more than 70 occasions since Jharkhand was formed in November 2000.

Last Updated: May 08, 2010, 13:08 PM IST

Ranchi: It`s no surprise to find a chartered plane shooting into the sky every time a political crisis hits Jharkhand - which is pretty often, given that the state has seen seven chief ministers in nine years and there is the likelihood of an eighth taking charge soon.

The frequency of chartered planes flying out of the state, carrying politicians, almost always multiplies in times of political instability. In most cases, the chartered planes used by politicians are hired by spending lakhs of rupees of public money, said an official.

According to sources in the government, chartered planes have been hired on more than 70 occasions since the state was formed in November 2000. "One flight of a chartered plane costs a minimum Rs 3 to 4 lakh," an official of the Jharkhand civil aviation department told a news agency, not wishing to be identified.

A fresh crisis has erupted in the state. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief and Chief Minister Shibu Soren has been categorically asked by his government`s alliance partner, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to quit.

The current political crisis in the state also has a chartered flight link. The crisis started when Soren left for New Delhi on a chartered plane to attend the Lok Sabha. Soren went to attend parliament to save his membership.

On April 27, Soren voted in favour of the United Progressive Alliance government at the centre on a cut motion moved by the BJP, which supports his party`s government in the state.

Soren`s vote pushed the state into a political crisis. On April 28 the BJP announced its decision to withdraw its support to the Soren government. Soren returned to Ranchi April 28 by a charted plane.

To end the stalemate, a JMM leader and a few All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) leaders left for New Delhi May 1 by two chartered planes.

As part of the continuing air dashes to New Delhi, a JMM leader and a delegation of AJSU leaders took a chartered flight to the national capital Thursday.

Chartered planes have played a major role in most political crises witnessed in the state.

In March 2005, when Soren was invited to form the government after the assembly poll despite the fact that the numbers were against him, the BJP used a chartered plane to fly its legislators to Jaipur to avoid poaching.

When Soren had to face a trust vote, the BJP and its alliance partners` legislators were brought back to state capital Ranchi by a chartered plane.

In September 2006, when Madhu Koda along with three independent legislators revolted against the Arjun Munda-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, chartered planes were used to ferry legislators of the rival United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

"The use of chartered planes during political crises is gross misuse of public money," Shailesh Sinha, Jharkhand Congress spokesperson, told IANS.

IANS