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Last Updated: September 19, 2009  123 views

Austerity Campaign : A new Political Drama

in: Politics

Sonia GandhiIndian National Congress is in News because of its much hyped Austerity Campaign. In this campaign, UPA Government has asked its Members of parliament and union ministers to travel in Economy class instead of usual Business Class and Chartered Planes and also not to stay in five star Hotels. The party is also trying to implement some innovative cost cutting measures to decrease the fiscal deficit in the Central Budget. Going by the Mahatma Gandhi’s way, Congress has been trying to reach the common man and spread the message that it cares for Taxpayer’s money. Congress’ austerity drive campaign got a lot of attention after it was found that two high profile UPA ministers – S M Krishna, Minister of External Affairs, and his deputy Shashi Tharoor – were staying in expensive five-star hotel suits instead of their officially allotted bungalows.

In a country where the hierarchy of politicians is determined by the size of their bungalows and their convoys, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has asked party leaders to give up a fifth of their salaries for drought-relief work. She also traveled in economy class flight to Mumbai to launch the poll campaign and set an example for other party members. Following his mother, Rahul decided not to travel in the executive class of the super fast train when he arrived in Ludhiana to inaugurate a four-day camp of young Congress men. In these days of austerity drives, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has decided to give a go-by to her Iftar party which is normally held on the lawns of the party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road.

Shashi TharoorBut there are several other reasons for these austerity measures as suggested by opposition parties and political commentators in the country. “By travelling in economy class and trains, Congress leaders are staging a drama to conceal their weakness. Wrong economic policies of the Congress government led to inflation which affected poor people of the country.” Mayawati Said. BJP leader and MP Maneka Gandhi is also not happy with this campaign of Congress. She said “If ministers get committed to weed out corruption, I think there would be surely no need for any austerity drive. The one undertaken by the Congress is just a political stunt and holds no significance.” The main reasons behind this Auterity stunt of Congress are Elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, draught affected areas of India etc. Actually the party wants to gain the sympathy of voters from the people of the areas suffering from Draught. What are your opinions on this issue? Do post your comments.

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    This is complete ridiculous. Congress’ Austerity Driver is a political stunt just to attract voters in the coming State Elections and to deviate the attention of common man from Inflation, unemployment, draught, poverty etc.

    Soni on September 19th, 2009
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    Reacting on the controversy over his “cattle class” remarks, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Thursday night said he was “sorry” for hurting any sentiments and that his words had been misunderstood.

    Tharoor ran into trouble for a message he posted on the social networking site Twitter in which he said sarcastically in response to a query that he would travel “cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows!”.

    Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan had termed the phrase as “unacceptable” and said Tharoor was perhaps not conscious of local sensitivities since he was new to Indian politics.

    The minister who is in Liberia on an official visit tweeted late night Thursday that he had, “learned belatedly of fuss over my tweet replying to journo’s query whether I would travel to Kerala in ‘cattle class’.”

    He pointed out that the phrase “cattle class” was used in the query, which he just repeated.

    “It’s a silly expression but means no disrespect to economy travellers, only to airlines for herding us in like cattle. Many have misunderstood,” he tweeted.

    He admitted that if the phrase when translated into Malayalam sounded worse, especially if taken out of context. “To those hurt by the belief that my repeating the phrase showed contempt: sorry,” said Tharoor.

    He also explained that the word “holy cows” was not referring to any individuals. “Holy cows are NOT individuals but sacrosanct issues or principles that no one dares challenge. Wish critics would look it up.”

    The minister said that he had learnt a lesson from the episode. “I now realise I should not assume people will appreciate humour. You should not give those who would wilfully distort your words an opportunity to do so.”

    Besides, Tharoor also mentioned that he had excellent meetings with the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other dignitaries. He is the first minister in 38 years to visit the West African nation.

    Pradip Ghatak on September 22nd, 2009