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Austerity drive is tokenism: BJP

india Updated: Sep 16, 2009 00:36 IST
Vikas Pathak
Vikas Pathak
Hindustan Times
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The BJP has dismissed the government’s austerity drive as bizarre tokenism, an attempt to divert attention from rising prices.

“Bizarre tokenism of economy perpetrated by the Congress is a feeble attempt to hoodwink the nation,” said party leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy. “(It is) just hogwash to distract the nation faced with galloping food prices.”

Rudy also questioned why the railway ministry had flown in files to Mamata Banerjee, who had skipped cabinet meetings because she was in Kolkata.

Pointing to project overruns — Rs 49,000 crore (Rs 49 billion) on 301 projects — the BJP leader said they were avoidable in troubled times.

So what’s ‘real austerity’? “Socialist (and ally) George Fernandes never traveled by first class and never even ironed his clothes,” was his answer.

Asked if the BJP, too, was thinking of an austerity drive and whether any of the ministers in the states governed by it had decided to take a salary cut, Rudy said, “The Congress conduct is not the yardstick for us. We do not believe in such hypocrisy.”

On Monday, party colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad, too, said something similar: “Mere tokenism will not do. The government must work to bring down the unprecedented price rise, rather than putting up this show.”

But not all in the party seem to agree with them. One of its Members of Parliament, Prabhat Jha, a part of an official delegation to Austria, wrote to the Prime Minister two days back that he wanted to travel economy.

Jha said that austerity measures should be a permanent feature of public life. All members of the delegation should fly economy class, he said.