Austerity fever catches up: Pranab leads, others follow
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Last Updated: Saturday, September 12, 2009, 23:52
  
New Delhi: Austerity fever caught up with in the Union Cabinet on Saturday as a host of union ministers vowed to cut down on travel and other expenses, following the example set by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who travelled by economy class on Saturday.

Mukherjee, who is in the midst of a controversy over austerity measures imposed by his ministry, flew to Kolkata this morning by economy class of a budget airline.

His office said he would return tomorrow by economy class on an Air India flight.

The austerity drive was joined by a number of other ministers, including Vilasrao Deshmukh, Veerappa Moily, Anand Sharma, Sushilkumar Shinde, Praful Patel, Mamata Banerjee, Krishna Tirath, Jairam Ramesh and Dinesh Trivedi, who vowed to cut down on trave and other expenses.

Mukherjee might also cancel a visit to Cyprus for a Commonwealth Ministers' meeting to which he had planned to go by a special aircraft, sources close to him said.

They said he would fly ordinary class if he flies abroad for a World Bank meeting in Turkey sometime later.

"It's nothing new to me. During elections and whenever I travel on commercial flights, I almost (always) travelled economy class. It's nothing new," Mukherjee told reporters in Kolkata.

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said the party believed in the principle of "simple living and high thinking".

He said if a few ministers and MPs observe austerity measures, the message would go across on its need in times of economic recession.

Ahmed, however, said ministers with physical problems are exempted from it.

"If somebody is tall or plump, or has a physical problem, how can he or she travel long distance in cramped seats," the spokesman said.

Bureau Report


First Published: Saturday, September 12, 2009, 23:52


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