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OpIndia investigates: How true is Congress claim that no planes are available for charter because BJP booked them all

For Congress to claim that BJP has booked all chartered airplanes for all days leading up to the elections for all flying hours seems outlandish even for the Congress party that recently organised an EVM "hacking" event where the hackers themselves admitted that they can't prove their assertions.

The election season is upon us. Just a few months away from the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, the litany of lies and misrepresentations have just about started. Recently, the Congress party claimed that 2019 was a fight of the unequal. It claimed that BJP had booked all available chartered planes for 2019 and that Congress was not struggling.

NDTV article

“The BJP has booked all the chartered planes for their Lok Sabha poll campaign. We are not getting any and we are struggling to get some planes,” Anand Sharma, senior Congress leader told reporters.

He then floated wild theories about how the BJP is funding its election campaign through Public Sector Banks. He said, “But still we would defeat them (BJP) with the love and support of people of the country”.

Clearly, the Congress is using the trope as a ploy to seem like the underdog. However, the mighty Congress party not having access to charter planes was a claim a little too tough to swallow.

We decided to get to the bottom of the issue by trying to hire a chartered plane ourselves. Of course, we wouldn’t really have the funds to go through with it, but we did attempt to take a quotation for the same.

We called up several companies that help people hire planes. However, most of these companies refused to come on record since the industry is rather small (with limited players) and they are often tightlipped about their operations.

We then posed as clients and tried to extract a quotation for a chartered flight. We said we wanted to fly from Mumbai to Nanded and back Mumbai.

We have masked the name of the company and details of the company because the aim here is to prove that chartered flights are available, and not to force a company to come on record.

The first quote we got was for a Learjet 45 Jet. The flight date was 8th Feb. The roundtrip cost of the chartered flight from Mumbai to Nanded and back to Mumbai was quoted as Rs. 8,14,200.

Proforma Invoice 1

The next invoice we got was for a Legacy Jet. For the round trip of Mumbai-Nanded-Mumbai was Rs. 11,30,833.

Proforma Invoice 2

For the same trip, we managed to get a quotation for two separate kinds of aircraft for the same trip scheduled on 8th February.

As evident, chartered aircrafts are available and any claim to the contrary is certainly either a figment of the imagination or a bold lie.

It stands to reason that if unknown journalists could pose as customers and get a quote of two separate aircrafts for a round trip as early as 8th February, Congress claims that BJP has booked all chartered flights and left nothing for the Congress are lies to garner sympathy.

It is entirely possible that Congress is floating this theory to paint itself as the underdog with far lesser means and resources to fight the 2019 elections. Playing the underdog may as well help the Congress party considering, the truth about the Congress’ party’s resources and funds did not bode well for them in the 2014 elections.

However, for Congress to claim that BJP has booked all chartered airplanes for all days leading up to the elections for all flying hours seems outlandish even for the Congress party that recently organised an EVM “hacking” event where the hackers themselves admitted that they can’t prove their assertions.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, since October 2017

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