Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Rahul attacks PM over VVIP aircraft; govt sources say procurement process began under UPA | India News

NEW DELHI: After Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at the government for buying two aircraft worth Rs 8,000 crore, government sources said the process for procuring VVIP aircraft began around a decade ago under the UPA government and Modi government only brought this process to a logical conclusion.
Sources said that these aircrafts are not the ‘PM’s aircrafts’ but will be used for other VVIPs as well and they belong to the Indian Air Force and not the Prime Minister.
“The aircraft used for VVIP travel till now, the famed Air India Jumbo Jets are more than 25-years-old and not only are they incapable of long, trans-Atlantic flights, forcing halt enroute for refueling and replenishment purposes, they are also fuel guzzlers of epic proportions,” sources added.
Earlier today, Rahul Gandhi took a dig at the BJP for criticising him for sitting on a ‘gaddi’ (cushion) on a tractor, saying that the prime minister’s ‘Air India One’ did not just have a cushion but a whole lot of luxury beds for his comfort.
“Why don’t you question them about this,” Gandhi asked the media in response to a question about him sitting on a ‘gaddi’ on a tractor during his Punjab ‘Kheti Bachao Yatra’.
He accused the prime minister for “wasting” thousands of crores of rupees on the plane just because “his friend Donald Trump (US President) has one (Air Force One)”.
Explaining a brief chronology, the sources said that the process of acquisition of two new aircrafts for the travel of VVIPs commenced in 2011 when upon direction of Group of Ministers (GOM), a meeting of Committee of Secretaries (CoS) was held wherein it was decided that an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) would examine the available options for long term arrangement of VVIP aircrafts.
In the same year, an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) coordinated by Cabinet Secretariat was set up to consider all the options, including acquisition, management and utilization of aircraft for VVIP operations, sources said adding that the Cabinet Secretariat recommended transfer of the aircraft to the Indian Air Force in August, 2013.
India received a custom-made B777 aircraft which will be used to fly VVIPs like the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister . The aircraft arrived in Delhi from Texas, US on October 1.

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