Saturday, August 04, 2007

Laloo, under fire for helicopter landings, blames pilots

Anything our politicians do is usually highlighted, and normally very reasonably. It is very easy to believe that our politicians are arrogant, act as if they know best, don't care about other people, treat everybody else as their servants, and overall are a pain. Well, if you wanted confirmation, here's confirmation. When Laloo Prasad was using an IAF helicopter for looking at villagers affected by flood, although he is the railway minister and not the home minister or the Bihar chief minister (although doing flood surveys and pretending to care looks very good on TV). And then what happened? Disregarding all norms regarding landing helicopters on places other than a helipad, and without an obvious need (such as delivering supplies, or dropping a doctor, or picking up injured people), he ordered the helicopter to land.
Obviously, in a heavily political sceanrio, such a violation of rules cannot stand, and hence a worker from another party filed a complaint that he was damaged by the sudden landing of the helicopter (could be easily true as well, a helicopter is a heavy machinery and also creates a massive down draft, especially helicopters used by the air force). And what does our embarrassed railway minister do ? He tried to shift the blame to the poor pilots:

"I don't know why they (pilots) landed, the decision was not in my hands," the Railways Minister said when asked about how the MI-17 helicopter had landed on the national highway near Manihari village, while he was undertaking an aerial survey of flood-affected areas of Bihar.
The incident of helicopter landing on the highway has come in for sharp attack from Opposition parties, who said this could have endangered civilian lives.
Meanwhile, the air force has sent a report to Defence Minister A K Antony about the unscheduled landing. IAF officials were tightlipped about the incident, but sources claimed that it was only on the insistence of the Railways Minister that the pilots landed on the highway, disregarding usual norms.

Only the very gullible will believe that the Railway Minister did not have anything to do with this. Does it seem possible that pilots, used to living a life bound by rules, and flying an expensive machine will suddenly land in violation of rules ? On the other hand, they are not easily able to refuse the order of a minister who seems to be a very powerful man in the government. India is not yet in a state where the officers can refuse and the minister would have to resign for trying to get government officials to do an illegal act. Laloo is a very valuable minister to the Congress and a firm ally; incidents like these will just get flicked off like a fly.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:29 AM