Wrestler-MLA’s aerial route to meet the poor

Politicians in our country are always game to go the extra mile in the name of the poor. From fancy cars, bulletproof vehicles and SUVs, they will hire anything to reach the masses.

But one man in Bihar has decided to skip travelling by road and has instead hired a chopper for six months to drive home the message in the run-up to the Bihar assembly elections to be held later this year.

Dadan Singh, better known as Dadan Pahalwan because of his passion for wrestling, is ready to shell out around Rs 6 crore for a four-seater helicopter from a Hyderabad-based firm during his campaign. And all this, he claims, is for the sake of the poor.

Dadan, an Independent legislator from Dumraon constituency of Buxar district, has hired the chopper from June 1 to November 30. “I will fly to the remotest villages in the state to expose the failure of successive governments in the past 20 years. The 15-year rule of Lalu Prasad and five-year rule of Nitish Kumar did nothing for the Bihari pride and honour.

“It will not be possible to go to all the 70,000-odd villages across Bihar. But I will try to cover the maximum number of villages in this chopper,” he said.

Hiring a chopper, though, has not come cheap. Dadan said that he would have to fly threeand-a-half hours per day at the rate of Rs 75,000 per hour for the next six months.

In addition, he also has to pay the team of pilots, engineers and junior engineers who will stay put in Patna for flying and upkeep of the chopper. ” I have entered into an agreement with the Turbo Aviation Private Limited company based in Hyderabad in this regard,” said Dadan, who was once the Bihar unit president of Samajwadi Party before he was expelled.

“As per the contract, I have to fly for a minimum of three-and-a-half hours everyday. But in case of bad weather I will not have to pay.” Dadan, who was the minister for commercial taxes in the Rabri Devi government, said he would have to fork out approximately Rs 3 lakh a day till his mission is complete.

Going by his estimate, he would have to shell out around Rs 6 crore for keeping the helicopter.

But it makes business sense for the wrestler- turnedpolitician.

“The aviation companies usually hike the hiring rate of choppers up to Rs 2 lakh per hour during polls,” he said.

“So I thought of booking it much before the elections.” Dadan said he had initially thought of purchasing the chopper which would have come around Rs 7 or Rs 8 crore. “But I was told that I would have to have trained personnel to maintain a chopper,” he said. “Who knows, I may even buy one towards the end of the elections.” Dadan said he had already sent his 24- year- old son Kartar Yadav to the US to undergo pilot’s training. ” He will be a trained pilot in two years’ time.” But till his son returns, Dadan would have to make do with the pilots and technical staff supplied by the Hyderabad firm.

Dadan admitted that keeping a chopper would be a costly affair but said he is ready to spend his last penny for the sake of the poor.

Dadan said he had to sell off his plots of land in Bhojpur, Patna and Varanasi to hire the chopper. “I am not among those politicians who stash away their ill-gotten money in foreign banks,” he said.