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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

To reach airport 25 kms away, Channi hops into govt chopper, then flies to Delhi in chartered flight

Cong 2017 manifesto: “The use of helicopter for travelling by the Chief Minister and the ministers will be forbidden except in case of emergency or calamity.”

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: October 6, 2021 11:27:07 am
The excessive use of government chopper at that time was frowned upon by the opposition as well as the people of the state. (File)

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi Tuesday took the government chopper from CM’s residence in Sector 2 here to reach Mohali Airport – a distance of 25 km — to catch a chartered flight to Delhi.

Channi had to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the national capital. Accompanied by PPCC working president Kuljit Singh Nagra and Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, the CM took off from Rajindra Park and landed at Mohali airport. Since it was a short distance, it was rumoured that the CM’s chopper had developed a snag. However, sources said it was a small flight by the CM to reach the airport.

Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office added that the CM was to meet Shah at 8 pm and had to come back at night after the meeting.

“The chopper could not have flown at night. Hence, a chartered plane was hired,” said a source. He added that since the CM was short on time, he took the government chopper from Rajindra Park, located opposite the CM’s residence, to reach the international airport in Mohali.

“Since he had already hired a chartered plane, he decided to take Nagra and Bittu along. They had to discuss something regarding the Congress activities.” a source said. Channi had met Bittu earlier during the day also along with Cabinet minister Gurkirat Singh Kotli.

Use of chopper, thereby burdening the state exchequer, has been a huge issue in Punjab during the previous SAD-BJP government.

The excessive use of government chopper at that time was frowned upon by the opposition as well as the people of the state.

Later, the Congress, in its manifesto had promised that it would not use chopper. The manifesto of the Congress ahead of 2017 clearly said: “The use of helicopter for travelling by the Chief Minister and the ministers will be forbidden except in case of emergency or calamity.”

Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also used the chopper to go to Delhi and reach other parts of the state. However, he did not go out of Chandigarh many times especially since March 2020 during the Covid pandemic.

The government chopper is now used by party general secretary incharge Harish Rawat also. It has been sent to Uttrakhand several times to fetch Rawat when he was sorting out the Congress feud.

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