What all was wrong with Modi's historic seaplane ride?
PM Narendra Modi made history by taking a seaplane ride from Sabarmati river to Dharoi dam in Mehsana during his Gujarat polls campaign. However, as details about the seaplane emerge, Modi might find himself cornered. The seaplane ride raised many questions: Why was a plane seaplane flying in from Karachi used? How was Modi allowed to board a single-engine aircraft? Here's all about it.
The Air India plane, Modi normally uses, remains grounded for security scans before he embarks on international tours. However, this seaplane flew from UAE to Karachi, Pakistan on December 3. From Karachi, the plane came to Mumbai. On December 11, the seaplane landed in Ahmedabad all set for Modi's sortie promoting development. Were they able to conduct security checks within a day?
Using the Kodak 100 aircraft raises serious safety concerns. As per air safety rules, VVIPs should travel by twin-engine aircrafts. However, Kodak 100 is a single-engine aircraft. Single-engine aircrafts are less safe as in case of engine failure or a nasty bird hit, chances of recovery are slim. Incidentally, Modi was warned about these issues but he overrode them.
Did Modi's seaplane ride overshoot the poll expenses? Reportedly, just ferrying between Ahmedabad and Dharoi and back would have cost the BJP about Rs. 42L. The expenditure limit for LS elections in states is Rs. 70L for each constituency. However, since it was marketed as a "development project," it is unclear whether BJP will pay for the expenses or the government.
US-registered Kodak 100 aircraft belongs to Utah-based Quest Aircraft Company. The company is operated by a Japanese plane-maker and is owned by Bank of Utah. Interestingly, Modi became the first incumbent Indian PM to be flown by foreign pilots aboard an American-registered aircraft. Canadian pilot, John Goulet has over 40 years' experience in international commercial aviation; he described the PM as a good passenger.
Meanwhile, political parties exchanged barbs over the ride. Transport minister Nitin Gadkari said as per rules, Modi can use any transport facility. He urged Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi to try the ride. Rahul said the plane-ride was a "mere distraction" as BJP has no development to show for last 22 years. NC's Omar Abdullah wondered how was Modi allowed to flout security guidelines.