Pranab preaches and practises austerity measures

Leading by example

Pranab preaches and practises austerity measures


Mukherjee flew in here from New Delhi by the economy class of budget airline SpiceJet and coyly told reporters here that he had not done something new. “It’s nothing new. During elections and whenever I travel on commercial flights, I’ve often travelled economy class,” Mukherjee said.

And when he returns to the capital on Sunday, he plans to take an economy class seat on an Air India flight. Apparently, the minister is not quite happy with the hype surrounding the austerity drive. “Why all this fuss about austerity?” he asked. “Earlier also, I used to travel economy class during the full five years when I was a minister in the P V Narasimha Rao Cabinet. Because of my workload and other considerations the Prime Minister allotted a special Air Force aircraft when I assumed charge of the Defence Ministry.”

Mukherjee is also believed to be mulling cancellation of his scheduled visit to Cyprus for a Commonwealth Ministers’ conference to which he had planned to travel by a special aircraft.  And now he plans to fly ordinary class if he goes abroad for a World Bank meeting in Turkey sometime later this month.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, known for her spartan lifestyle, always flies economy class and does not use the special ministerial saloon when she travels by train. She said the Ministry had already begun an austerity drive and taken several cost-cutting steps.
“I’ve issued an order to cut all additional expenditure, and it has already been implemented in the railways,” Banerjee said on Saturday while flagging off two new trains from Sealdah station here. She has also directed six Trinamool Congress ministers of state in the Union Cabinet to do the same.

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