Diphu April 12:  With a strong wind of election campaigning gaining ground, Karbi Anglong as well as Dima Hasao is getting a ‘three dimensional’ approach in publicity and attraction. The roar of the single engine Bell 204L’s turbine engine whirling the dust with its rotor blades; the star campaigners emerge from the belly of the rotary winged aircraft.

The crowds gathering there cheer at the VIP as well as the flying metallic and perspex ‘dragonfly’. Many of them had walked kilometers through difficult terrain in West Karbi Anglong, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts. These make up the scheduled tribe parliamentary constituency. Such is the time and space management of the ruling party in India.

Choppers Help Political Visits

Incidentally, the chopper hired by INDIA for Assam, with its tail number VT-VAD, an Airbus Helicopter will not be available for the opposition from today; it flies to another state to continue the campaign.

Bell 206 l4 helicopter used for election visits. Image c/o Dhillon Aviation.

Bell 206 l4 helicopter used for election visits. Image c/o Dhillon Aviation.

However the roomier single engine helicopter made available by Dhillon Aviation (VT-IQB) was allotted for the “Hills campaign” and has done remarkably well. It has flown to the most unknown locations not known to the chopper Aviator.

The ruling party is working with further ammo up its sleeve: VT-HLG which is the prima donna, VT-IKR ….. The list is full in its fifth line. It is said that “If you lose in the skies in a war, you lose quickly.” Looks like the campaigners know something about this adage.

Election Spending

It is a war of the cost of the per hour flying rate etc. The operators are getting away with unbelievably high prices. The subtle play of demand and supply was the time when the election came in. So the prices jacked up to a kind of ‘sky splitting’ number than the pre-election rate of INR 1.20 Lakhs for single engine helicopters to 2.50 Lakhs per hour of flying for twin engines once.

Needless to say about the other ground handling costs, the aviator’s care and so on; a question comes in: whether this war in election is asymmetric?

The neighboring state of West Bengal is not far behind in helicopter electioneering. Like Assam, the movements of the star campaigners are a mix of chartered jet aircraft and a number of choppers arranged by the arrow aviation of New Delhi. Mamata flew into various areas including Salsa, Ras-Mela and other interior areas of the Duar region.