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    BJP, Congress trade charges after Madhya Pradesh gets Rs 65 cr aircraft for Shivraj Chouhan

    Synopsis

    The BJP has said the process to buy the luxury nine-seater Beechcraft Air 250 aircraft had begun in the previous tenure of the Chouhan government and that it was Congress CM Kamal Nath who finalised the deal. Only the delivery has happened now, said party spokesman Rajneesh Agrawal.

    The Congress, however, maintains that Chouhan should have cancelled the deal given that the state is now hard-pressed for resources amid the fight against Covid-19.
    The Congress in Madhya Pradesh has slammed the ruling BJP over a Rs 65-crore aircraft bought for flying chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, seeking to whip up the issue ahead of the bypolls to more than two dozen assembly seats in the state.

    The BJP has said the process to buy the luxury nine-seater Beechcraft Air 250 aircraft had begun in the previous tenure of the Chouhan government and that it was Congress CM Kamal Nath who finalised the deal. Only the delivery has happened now, said party spokesman Rajneesh Agrawal.

    The Congress, however, maintains that Chouhan should have cancelled the deal given that the state is now hard-pressed for resources amid the fight against Covid-19.

    A senior BJP leader said the state government had no state aircraft and the CM had to hire one or take a commercial flight for travel. “The twin-engine aircraft that the MP government had since 2001 was out of use and was sold off by the Kamal Nath government for Rs 8 crore,” said the leader, who did not wish to be identified.

    Congress state spokesman Abbas Hafeez, however, said: “Chouhan, in his last tenure, was planning to buy the aircraft for Rs 80 crore. But our government, with PC Sharma as the state aviation minister, brought down the deal to Rs 65 crore. But at this time, when the new government has stopped many public welfare schemes started by us and claims the coffers are empty, this aircraft deal should have been cancelled as well.”

    The BJP’s Agrawal said the earlier aircraft of the government was grounded due to security concerns and that it was not possible for a government to cancel a deal at the last minute and lose money.

    The new aircraft can fly up to 35,000 feet and is capable of landing on all airstrips in Madhya Pradesh.
    ( Originally published on Aug 26, 2020 )
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