Car wars in State's corridors of power

V S Ugrappa insists on a Nissan X-Trail worth Rs 25 lakh
Last Updated 06 June 2009, 20:20 IST

It is car wars between a senior member of the State Legislature’s Upper House and the Government.

Having dumped his Toyota Innova, leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council V S Ugrappa is now insisting the government provide him with the same car as the Council Chairman. But the Finance department has not wilted, having flatly refused to give in to the MLC’s demand which, if acceded to, could cost the exchequer – a whopping Rs 25 lakh.

No heartburn

It is reliably learnt that three months back, the finance department approved the high-end Nissan X-Trail car which costs over Rs 25 lakh, for use by the Chairman, Veeranna Mattikatti. At the same time, the department approved the purchase of a Ford Endeavour, that costs around Rs 21 lakh, for Ugrappa’s use. Interestingly enough, Mattikatti has no heartburn that his colleague fancies a car same as his. He has supported Ugrappa’s stand and has informed the legislature secretariat in writing that he will not accept delivery of the X-Trail if Ugrappa’s demands are not met. Clearly, there is a lot of camaraderie between the two MLCs both of whom belong to the Congress.
All this when the government has publicly said it would follow austere measures in the wake of global recession.

Central norms

What has raised eyebrows in the government quarters is that Ugrappa’s demand for the swank X-Trail far exceeds the entitlement for Union Cabinet ministers who have to make do with either Maruti Esteems or Ambassadors.

The State Legislative Council Chairman, the Speaker and their deputies and the Opposition leaders in both Houses are entitled to automobiles from the State government. The chief minister is entitled to use a car worth Rs 21 lakh, while the Cabinet ministers are allowed to purchase vehicles that are half the price.
Opposition leaders, who enjoy Cabinet rank, are allowed to replace their vehicles after they run 1 lakh kilometres.

But the rules were recently relaxed in the case of Opposition leader in the Assembly, who was provided with a CRV Honda costing Rs 21 lakh. Chief Minister Yeddyurappa too uses the same model and his Cabinet colleagues are driven around in Toyota Innovas.

Mattikatti, sources said, took objection and demanded that the relaxation in rules should apply to the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council. “The Finance department agreed to procure vehicles that cost up to Rs 21 lakh. However, it has refused to give approval for any vehicle that costs more than Rs 21 lakh, with the Chairman’s case an exception,’’ sources said.

When contacted, Ugrappa said he did not make any demand for a particular model of vehicle. “All I want is a diesel car which gives maximum mileage so that I can save on fuel. The Chairman told me that X-Trail Nissan is better and so I asked for it,” he stated, adding that he would not mind if the Government turns down his demand. Asked about the reason for Mattikatti advocating his cause, he said he was not aware of the Chairman’s stand.

Enquiries about the comfort-levels of the X-Trail and the Endeavour suggest that the Nissan-manufactured car is indeed more plush than the its Ford cousin. It has leather-upholstered seats, four-wheel drive and has a top speed of 180 kmph that can be attained with a sixth gear. The Ford Endeavour does not have leather-upholstery, has five gears, has a two-wheel drive and can achieve a maximum speed of 144 kmph.

DH News Service

What a sacrifice !

Legislative Council Chairman Veeranna Mattikatti has decided to go for a lower-end model of Nissan costing Rs 23 lakh, reports DHNS. The remaining Rs 2 lakh of Rs 25 lakh approved for him to purchase the vehicle will go to Ugrappa so that he can buy the  model he fancies.

(Published 06 June 2009, 20:20 IST)

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