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Parties fly high on choppers and bullet proof cars

Posted on March 16, 2009 - Filed Under Bullet Proof |

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Political parties seem to be immune to recession, if their spending pattern is anything to go by. Parties are going all out in an effort�
to woo as many voters as they can before the polls begin. As a result, there has been a 50 per cent increase in the demand for choppers and bullet proof cars when compared to the 2004 election.

Air service providers say that everyone, right from national parties like the Congress and BJP to the regional TDP, BSP and SP, have rented out more choppers this time to ensure that their star candidates reach out to the maximum number of voters in the shortest span of time. The BJP alone has hired close to 25 choppers, says a service provider.

Such high-end campaigning does not come cheap; a single engine chopper can cost a party close to Rs 1 lakh per hour and a twin-engine chopper anywhere between Rs 2-3 lakh. “Most parties rent it for an average of three to four hours per day, because the rent is more if the aircraft is hired for less than three hours,” said D S Dua, CEO of Status Air Services, Hyderabad.

Deccan Aviation, another air service provider based out of Bangalore, has also let out six to eight helicopters for election work, at a price of Rs 1 lakh per hour. According to this firm, around 100 helicopters, including some that belong to individuals like the Ambanis and the Tatas, are being used for elections. “Personal helicopters of organisations like the GMR, Indiabulls or even real estate majors are also being used by political parties,” reveals captain G R Gopinath, chairman, Deccan Aviation.

There has also been a considerable rise in the purchase of bullet proof cars to ensure the safety of prominent candidates. “Security of the candidates is a matter of great concern this time,” said Sunchit Sobti, director, Laggar Industries Ltd, Jalandhar. Sobti’s business has doubled this year as he has already sold 14 bullet proof cars for elections and is flooded with more orders. Without naming the political parties that have purchased these vehicles through their sponsors, Sobti says that he has sold three such cars to Andhra Pradesh, two to Punjab, five to Uttar Pradesh, two to Nagaland and two to Bihar.

These cars cost between Rs 6.5 to Rs 30 lakh, depending on the model and make, whether they are a Safari, Montero, Pajero, Land Cruiser, Scorpio or a Mercedes. Incidentally, Sobti adds that the three cars purchased by parties in Andhra Pradesh are all Safaris priced at Rs 11 lakh each.�


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