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Sonia flies economy, Rahul to take a train

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 15, 2009
First Published: 01:40 IST(15/9/2009) | Last Updated: 01:43 IST(15/9/2009)

After asking ministers and party functionaries to spend less on themselves, Congress president Sonia Gandhi is keen to prove austerity begins at home.


On Monday, she travelled economy class to Mumbai. Her son and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi will travel to Ludhiana in a train on Tuesday.

The Congress has announced austerity measures in the light of the prevailing drought situation in the country.

Ministers are expected to save at least 10 per cent of their allotted budget for travel and administrative expenses, while party MPs have been asked to contribute 20 per cent of their salaries to drought relief.

Sonia went to Mumbai to inaugurate a party office in the city. Rahul is going to Ludhiana to attend a training camp for Youth Congress workers.

The mother-son duo are among India’s most protected leaders, covered by the elite Special Protection Group (SPG). They normally travel business class in commercial planes or by special aircraft.

A close protection team (CPT) of four to six guards travels with them. The CPT leader sits in the row behind the leader, while the others fly economy.

“Simplicity is nothing new for Sonia Gandhi,” Congress spokesman Abhishekh Manu Singhvi said. “And the fact that ministers have reacted with alacrity shows that her message on austerity has gone home.”

Though not a politician Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, is the latest to join the ranks of those taking to austerity.

He is likely to shift from a five-star hotel to the modest Karnataka Bhavan soon.

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