While a ‘large sized’ minister’ like Sharad Pawar refused straight away to travel by economy by pointing to his ample girth, SM Krishna told the media hounding him that he would continue to make similar arrangements ( five star) for his accomodation till the official residence has been renovated to his liking.
To try and stem all the talk about indifference in the government about tightening purse strings in times of economical downturn, Sonia Gandhi travelled to Mumbai by economy class. She earned flak for her efforts from Manohar Joshi of Shiv Sena who questioned the wisdom of such a move given the security arrangements that have to be made for VVIP’s when they decide to rub shoulders with the ‘aam aadmi’. He also raised the question of the inconvenience caused to fellow travellers due to stringent security arrangements made for the VVIPs.
Before Sonia could mull over the appropriateness of her travel, Rahul decided to travel like the rest of us, by train, to Ludhiana. The TV channels gave non stop coverage to this and many passengers on the same train were heard grumbling about the difficulties caused to them by Rahul’s decision to travel with them.The station seemed to be swarming with commandos and other security staff.
But before the train could even reach its destination has come the news of stones having been thrown at the (Shatabdi) train somewhere near Panipat. The stones thrown were of fairly large size and broke the windows of coach C 2,C 4 and C 7. Rahul was in C3 and escaped unhurt. Other passengers were not so fortunate and a few got hurt when the rocky missiles entered the coaches after shattering the thick window panes.
Given this incident, one wonders at the wisdon of ‘economy’ travel by VVIPs. It seems that such symbolic gestures increase the difficulties of ordinary people, give security forces sleepless nights and the expense is considerble. Now that the Gandhis have made their point, could they please go back to their special jets and convoys so the rest of us can get on with our travels. After all if the government is serious about cost cutting there are surely many other areas where gross financial mismanagement is rife.