Air Force Played Vital Role During Lok Sabha Polls, Flew Over 1,000 Hours

New Delhi, 12 Jun (PTI): From extending the reach of the Election Commission into remote corners of the country to airlifting EVMs, the IAF played a vital role in the recently-held general elections, with its aircraft flying more than 1,000 hours in over 1,750 sorties.

The Indian Air Force on Wednesday shared details about the helping hand it lent to the electoral machinery in the conduct of the Lok Sabha polls.

“During the general elections 2024, the substantial flying effort has taken place over the last few months by medium-lift helicopters (Mi-17 variants), light utility helicopters (Chetak) and the indigenously manufactured advanced light helicopters (ALH Dhruv),” the IAF said in a statement.

The force has been actively involved with the task of airlifting electronic voting machines (EVMs) and deploying Election Commission of India (ECI) personnel on election duties, as has been carried out during previous general or assembly elections, officials said.

During the general elections 2024, the IAF played a “pivotal role” in extending the reach of the ECI into remote corners of the country, and to places where movement by road was a security concern, they said.

The task was time-bound as polling officers had to be positioned at each remote polling station within two days prior to the election date and de-inducted on the day of polling.

“The IAF played a vital role in five of the seven phases of the general elections, flying over 1,000 hours in over 1,750 sorties,” it said.

The seven-phase elections were held from April 19 to June 1 while votes were counted on June 4.

The ECI had declared results for 542 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, with the BJP winning 240 seats and the Congress 99.

From Jammu and Kashmir to Tamil Nadu and Nagaland to Gujarat, the ECI team spanned the lengths and breadths of the country to literally reach out to every voter in the country. “This herculean task was achieved through close coordination with the ECI and CEOs of various states through nodal officers in order to optimise utilisation of assets factoring security, weather and road connectivity,” the IAF said.

Helicopter assets of the Indian Army and the BSF were also dovetailed into the overall plan towards the smooth conduct of the elections, it said.

The transport and helicopter fleets of the IAF undertake varied war and peacetime tasks. In addition to the peacetime role of sustaining troops by air maintenance, and airlift of combat troops during domestic and international exercises, a number of tasks towards nation-building are also undertaken, the IAF said.

It has particularly been on the forefront in aid to civil power, officials said.