When it comes to pampering its ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries, the Haryana government knows no austerity. The luxury cars provided to them barely two years ago are now ready to be replaced by new models of their choice.
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is also learnt to have made up his mind to replace his Mercedes, extended the privilege to his ministers and CPSs about a month ago by asking them to choose the new vehicles they would like for themselves. Hyundai Santa Fe emerged as the first choice, followed by Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata.
While the state finance department has already given its in-principle approval to the purchase of the new luxury cars, the supplies and disposal department is in touch with dealers to finalise the price. The government gets vehicles at a discounted price as it buys them in bulk. Otherwise, a Santa Fe (top model) is available in the market for about Rs 25 lakh, a Camry (top model) for Rs 23 lakh and Sonata (top model) for Rs 20 lakh.
At present, most of the nine cabinet ministers and three ministers of state have Camry and Honda CRV, while the 11 CPSs have been provided Toyota Fortuner.
These vehicles are in addition to the ones given to them for use in Chandigarh. It is another matter that their family members are using them more.
Justifying the purchase, finance department officials said the vehicles of some of the ministers and CPSs had completed their run of 1.5 lakh km, a mandatory condition for a change of vehicle. But when asked about the other vehicles, which were as good as new, they fumbled for a satisfactory reply.
Though finance minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha admitted that many ministers and CPSs had sought to replace their vehicles, he said the decision in this regard was yet to be finalised.