Sonia gandhi, chairperson of the Congress party travelled economy class in the airlines to send a message to her ministers and other leaders to observe austerity in thought and action. it was indeed a fine gesture. Was the desire to observe austerity really carried out in word and deed?
Those who observed the seating arrangement on board the aircraft are quick to point out that her chair and that of AK Antony who was accompanying her, were bigger than the ordinary economy class chairs.Obviously, special seating arrangement was made for Sonia gandhi. Further, a little distance was kept between her chair and that of her companion. Was it the real economy class or just one of the makebelieve one?
No questions on chairs reserved for the security staff, the Special protection Group and the political companions like AK Antony also cost money. Let us grant her the fact that she travelled economy class and not the Business class and thus saved money of tax payers.
Rahul Gandhi too followed suit . This morning(15 Sep 09) he too travelled in the chair car from New Delhi to Ludhiana in the Swarna Shatabdi express and thus sent a clear message to the Congress colleagues on austerity. Did the message reach the target audience?
Ask Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Health Minister who hosted a grand Lunch on govt cost at the Rambagh Palace Hotel, Jaipur to launch a health programme for the common man called "Navjat shishu kalyan yojana"but the common man was not to be seen in the grand party. A princely sum of Rs Three Lacs was paid as rent for the hall and appurtenances hired on the occasion. The beneficiaries of the health scheme were not invited as they would have felt out of place in a palace party. The expenditure on the grand lunch was Rs 1500 per plate as per a conservative estimate. No official word on expenditure was forthcoming. Perhaps the new policy of the Health minister is : spend public money but just keep mum on the amount spent. Ah! they did not reckon ingenuity of our free press in finding out who is lavish with spending tax payers'money, notwithstanding the economic downturn.
Apparently, the right hand of the govt of India does not wish to know what the left hand is doing. Never mind if Sonia Gandhi is flying economy class redone or Rahul Gandhi is travelling for four hours in a railway train in a chair car as a commoner, some Ministers have their own style of life emulating His Highness the maharajah of jammu and Kashmir. Wish them luck please.
The King is dead, long live the king - so said the slogan on continuity of the british monarchy. In India one may say that Austerity is on board , Austerity is thrown out of the window. Say it anyway you like.