New Delhi: United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi travelled in Indian Air Force aircraft and helicopters 49 times in the last seven years which included 23 trips with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi also travelled in IAF aircraft and helicopters eight times in the last three years, according to a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are not eligible to travel by IAF aircraft and helicopters so they have to travel in the company of eligible persons which includes the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Defence Minister for official purposes. For unofficial purposes, only the Prime Minister is eligible.
Other Cabinet ministers can also travel by these aircraft after taking permission of the Prime Minister. According to IAF rules, people eligible for airlift can take other co-passengers for specific purposes.
Of the 49 air travels undertaken by Sonia Gandhi in IAF aircraft, 42 did not result in any bills as they were undertaken in the company of eligible people while six bills were raised and paid by the respective departments.
One bill of Rs 1.17 crore is still pending against the Karnataka government as this trip was undertaken on behalf of the state government. The flight details show Sonia Gandhi also travelled with Pranab Mukherjee (the then Finance and External Affairs Minister) and Defence Minister AK Antony six times each.
The reply received by Hissar-based RTI activist Ramesh Verma from the Defence Ministry and IAF headquarters show Assam Government has an outstanding of Rs 8.26 lakh on one air travel undertaken by Rahul Gandhi. One bill for air travel of Rahul Gandhi to Assam is still under preparation.