For an “Austere” Prime Minister, Far Too Many (and Costly) Helicopter Rides

But that’s the contradictory and hypocritical nature of Baburam Bhattarai. Can the Mustang-rider PM reveal the source of his party’s income to pay for his choppers fare?

By Siromani Dhungana

And the earth is round! Russian Mi-17 and French AS332 Super Puma helicopters were used by the then governments to fight against the decade-long Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) The story has taken a twist now and rebellion-turned-Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has been one of the frequent users of these flying machines.

Hiring these choppers cost from Rs 0.42 million to more than Rs 0.44 million for an hour, but that does not seem to deter our Mustang-rider Bhattarai from hiring helicopters for campaigning in favor of his party UCPN Maoist.

PM Bhattarai has spent Rs 19.09 million in chopper after assuming charge of the Prime Minister’s office in August 29‚ 2011, reports Kantipur Television.

He has chartered AS332 Super Puma and MI-17 helicopters of Nepal Army Air Wing for 23 times since August 2011. Dr Bhattarai, however, has cleared the chopper fair only once.

In September 2011, PM Bhattarai had said that his party would bear the cost of chartered flights that he takes to attend programs organized by the party. Speaking before the then State Affairs Committee of the parliament, the PM said the state would not have to bear the financial burden of his visits to party programs.

However, this is not an easy task. PM Bhattarai will have to show the source of income of his party to prove his statement a true which, as many believe, is virtually impossible.

Despite his promise to ride Nepal-assembled Mustang car after being PM, Bhattarai’s usage of choppers during his frequent visits to various parts of the country is quite contradictory.

A proletariat advocate in principle, Bhattarai’s integrity and commitment has already been questioned by different sections of the society. And many have dubbed him as a ‘populist’ leader and described his paradoxical actions as height of hypocrisy.

PM Bhattarai has said that he has put in place a system of bearing cost of choppers by his own party after some raised question of helicopter chartered in micro-blogging site, Twitter. His response will come true only if he can reveal the source of income of his party. The question is can our Mustang-rider PM reveal income of his party?

Details of Bhattarai’s usage of government choppers and the cost involved:

AS 332 Super Puma of Nepal Army

Date – Place – Time – Estimated cost

September 9 2011 -Gorkha -1hr- Rs 427,000

December 1 2011 -Lumbini -2hrs- Rs 854,000

December 22 2011 -Bhairahawa -2hrs- Rs 854,000

January 21 2012 -Hetauda -1hr- Rs 427,000

January 29 2012 -Dhankuta -2hrs- Rs 854,000

March 4 2012 -Pyuthan, Mahendranagar -3hrs- Rs 1,281,000

March 5 2012 -Pyuthan (return) -1hr- Rs 854,000

March 31 2013 -Rajbiraj -2hrs -Rs 854,000

June 9 2012 -Dharan -2hrs- Rs 854,000

November 28 2012 -Baglung -1hr- Rs 427,000

December 10 2012 -Gorkha -1hr- Rs 427,000

December 28, 2012 -Lamjung -2hrs- Rs 854,000

January 13 2013 -Lamnung -2hrs- Rs 854,000

January 15, 2013 -Lumbini -2hrs- Rs 854,000

January 21, 2013 -Taplejung -2.5 hrs- Rs 1,068,000

January 22, 2013 -Dailekh -5.5 hrs Rs 2,314,000

Subtotal 1,40,57,000.00

MI-17 chopper of Nepal Army

Date Place Time Estimated cost

April 25, 2012 -Gorkha -1 hr- Rs 445,000

September 8, 2012 -Gorkha -1hr- Rs 445,000

September 15, 2012 -Mahendranagar, Jumla, Surkhet, Dang -4hrs- Rs 1,780,000

September 27, 2012 -Nawalparasi -2hrs- Rs 890,000

January 17, 2013 -Rolpa -2hrs- Rs 890,000

Subtotal 44,50,000

Grand total: 1,85,07,000.00

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2 responses to “For an “Austere” Prime Minister, Far Too Many (and Costly) Helicopter Rides

  1. That Baburam Bhattarai and his Maoist party are systematically looting and making hell lot of money out of Nepal’s public exchequer is no secret. But this article shows exposes his hypocritical nature. He says one thing in public, does another in private. The team of Baburam and his wife have so brazenly looted the country that somebody needs to prosecute these two once they are out of power if we can’t stop them right now from plundering us further.

    Like this

  2. Pingback: Nepal: Wither Democracy? · Global Voices

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