Balance needed between security concern and austerity: Cong
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 22:00
New Delhi: A day after the train carrying Rahul Gandhi was stoned, Congress on Wednesday said a balance has to be struck between security concerns of SPG protectees and commitment to austerity.

"While our commitment to austerity stands unchanged, security concerns of SPG protectees are paramount and will be kept in mind," party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan told reporters here when asked to comment on the incident.

Natarajan said Congress wants to be to be seen with the common man and will have to take care of security also.

"Both will have to be balanced," she said adding "since it is a matter that concerns his (Rahul's) security, all measures must be taken...we will take all these concerns on board."

Natarajan, however, dismissed the stone-pelting incident as the "handiwork of some mischievious youngsters".

A senior AICC leader had on condition of anonymity also said while austerity is fine security aspect must not be compromised with.

"Such measures do have an impact on checking tendencies of extravagance among party leaders but caution has to be applied when it comes to those with high security risk," the leader said when asked about Congress President Sonia Gandhi's air travel to Mumbai in economy class and Rahul Gandhi's train journey in a non-executive class to Ludhiana.

Asked about UPA ministers spending lakhs of rupees on renovation of their offices and residences, Natarajan said the concerned ministers have already answered to the charges.

"Our ministers will adhere to the norms as prescribed," she added.

Brushing aside BJP's charge that Congress' austerity drive was a "bizarre tokenism", Natarajan said "it's not tokenism. Both the government and Congress are committed to substantial austerity measures and the austerity drive is a continuation and articulation of that process."

She also attacked the opposition party for criticising the austerity drive saying "they do not know what is sacrifice. BJP people have not given up anything in their life. We do not expect them to understand our concerns."

To another query about the delay in the election of a CLP leader in Andhra Pradesh, she said "there is a Chief Minister there who is leading the CLP at this time. There is no vacuum at the moment there."

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 22:00

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