This Lalu century is of a different kind (Election Special)
No matter what the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad has already entered the record books with a century and counting - of helicopter rides for campaigning. As of Thursday, he had undertaken at least 103 flights and could well make it a double century by the time the campaign ends a month from now, an aide said.
Lalu Prasad, in fact, is far ahead of the pack in a unique one-two-three that is emerging. The BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi, a former deputy chief minister, has so far has undertaken 63 flights for campaigning, while Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has undertaken 56 flights.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Chandeshwar Prasad Singh told IANS here Thursday that Lalu Prasad had so far used a chopper 103 times for campaigning. "It's indicative of his hard-working style, upbeat mood and unbeatable energy to reach out to the people in far away places," he added.
Another RJD leader, Shakti Yadav, said Lalu Prasd will complete his second century by the May 10 end of campaigning. "If Laluji has undertaken more than 100 chopper flights till today (Thursday, when voting was underway in 6 of Bihar's 40 Lok Sabha seats), polls for 34 seats will take place in next one month and Laluji will undertake more chopper flights for campaigning," he said.
Not surprisingly, Lalu Prasad was the first off the block after the April-May Lok Sabha elections were announced.
"There is less time and I have to reach out to the masses faster. The chopper is very helpful and my only hope," Lalu Prasad had told reporters last month.
According to RJD leaders, Lalu Prasad is using a new chopper of New Delhi-based Himalyan Heli Services Private Limited. It's a single-engined machine with a seating capacity of six.
Other than Lalu Prasad, his younger son Tejasvi Yadav, who is also a star campaigner for the RJD, has undertaken five chopper flights for campaigning.
As for the other airborne campaigners, they are pretty far behind.
BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav, the leader of opposition in the state assembly, has undertaken 52 chopper flights, while state BJP president Mangal Pandey and senior party party leader and former union minister C P Thakur have undertaken 32 and 29 chopper flights so far.
The BJP has hired three choppers for the election campaign and the ruling JD-U two.
Interestingly, BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has used chartered planes on eight occasions for campaigning in Bihar followed by BJP president Rajnath Singh, who has thrice used chartered planes.
LJP chief Paswan has undertaken eight chopper flights for campaigning, mostly in Jamui constituency, from where his son Chirag Paswan is contesting. The LJP has hired only one chopper.
At the bottom of the pack are Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi, who have one each used chartered planes for campaigning in the state.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 11-04-2014)