Shillong: The Election Commission today said Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has violated Model Code of Conduct by using a government-run chopper service to ferry him to campaign rallies in the Garo Hills region.

“Prima-facie it appears that there is a violation of the MCC (by the Chief Minister),” state Chief Election Officer P Naik told PTI.

“We will be able to see what had happened after we receive a full report from the Returning Officer,” he said.

Sangma had used the Pawan Hans chopper service from March 25 to 30 hopping several areas of the Garo Hills region after the Congress paid Rs 50 lakhs to the chopper company.

Taking strong exception to the services enjoyed by the Chief Minister, the P A Sangma-led National People’s Party had lodged a complaint with the Returning Officer for Tura Lok Sabha constituency alleging violation of the MCC.

“Using the only Pawan Hans helicopter, which is deployed for public transport by the Meghalaya government and managed by the Meghalaya Transport Corporation, solely for election purposes ferrying the Chief Minister to different meeting venues in the Garo Hills districts amounts to abuse of power and misuse of government facilities for election campaign,” NPP district president Semford B Sangma said in his complaint.

In its reply, Pawan Hans general manager Sanjay Kumar said since the company does not have any spare helicopter, it approached the state government if they could de-hire its services to meet the charter requirement.

“The state government had agreed to de-hire the chopper for three days with the condition of not paying the fixed monthly charges for the de-hired days,” he said.

Kumar said Pawan Hans regularly received such charter requirements for flying in the Northeast region, based on availability of spare helicopters and when customers (state governments) gives a NOC for de-hiring it.

Meghalaya Transport Corporation Managing Director Anthony Pariat said a “competent authority” of the state government had issued the NOC to PHL for de-hiring the chopper service.

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