There are only as many days and the country is vast. Right before any general election in India, political parties have to shell out for that modern day campaigning necessity: chartered aircraft that ferry and carpet-bomb campaigners across the length and breadth of the country. Parties hire a range of the latest aircraft from charter services across the country: from the Cessna Citation XLS, that costs just under Rs 3 lakh per hour, to single-engine choppers like the Bell 407 costing Rs 1 lakh for an hour.
There are more than a handful of service providers in the sector. They provide two kinds of hire—on a daily or an hourly basis.
In the Gujarat assembly elections of 2017, as per the expenses filed by the BJP with the Election Commission of India, the party officially spent about Rs 13.5 lakhs on a chartered plane for ‘star campaigner’ and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on November 26 and 27.
The planes that parties use are business jets like the Cessna Citation XLS and the Dassault Falcon. Also at their disposal are...