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Flight delayed, Modi cries conspiracy

Bhopal, April 1: Narendra Modi today alleged a conspiracy to hamper his election campaign after he reached a rally ground in Madhya Pradesh three-and-a-half hours late.

The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate arrived late in the afternoon in Rewa for the scheduled 1pm meeting after his private flight from Delhi and Bareilly, in Uttar Pradesh, was delayed twice, reportedly because of lack of clearance from the Union civil aviation ministry.

Modi apologised to the crowd in Rewa town and targeted the UPA regime without naming anyone specifically. “I urge the Election Commission to investigate why my programmes are getting delayed. Who is delaying my helicopter by hours?” he said.

“If you are scared of Modi, say it openly that you won’t let Modi travel anywhere, say it openly,” he said, as the crowd chanted “Modi, Modi”.

The Gujarat chief minister said his helicopter was not allowed to take off for three hours in Bareilly. “At the Delhi airport, I sat from 9.30am onwards but our aircraft was not being allowed to take off,” he told the crowd, adding: “For your penance in this heat, I assure you that I will never let this effort go waste.”

Modi praised Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. “I don’t need to tell the people of MP about the good work BJP governments can do. MP has seen good work of Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” he said.

In Bhopal, retired pilots and aviation experts expressed surprise at Modi’s comments. A pilot, who used to fly a state-owned plane, said he had performed duties during many state and parliamentary elections but had never faced such a problem.

“Normally, everything goes back to technicalities,” he said, pointing out that companies that own aircraft have a lot of responsibilities such as submitting flight plans well in advance.

“Why would a technical person serving the government play politics in such matters, that too when the media focus is on a personality like Modi or Rahul Gandhi,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Rahul, too, reached his public meeting at Aurangabad in Bihar two hours late today because of a helicopter snag.

Recently, Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh had to wait 50 minutes for his helicopter to fly out of Raipur. Later, he had to wait 40 minutes to fly back.