Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has splurged Rs 5 crore from the state exchequer to get himself a brand new bullet-proof bus in his favourite colour, white, which also happens to be the colour of a fleet of luxury SUVs the leader acquired for his entourage recently.
The bus named Telangana Pragathi Ratham (chariot of progress) will be used by Rao, popularly known as KCR, to travel to the interior regions of the state.
After prayers at Yadagirigutta, which KCR is developing along the lines of the famous Tirupati temple, the bus reached Hyderabad on Friday. KCR received it at the Chilkur Balaji (Visa) Temple on the city's outskirts.
Justifying the ostentatious acquisition, a state official said it was not possible for the CM to travel by chopper during bad weather and the bus might actually save some money. “With 17 seats, it is just like any other super-deluxe bus but with extra facilities, such as a toilet,” the official said.
Interior of the bullet-proof van of Telangana chief minsiter KC Rao (HT Photo)
The first CM of the country's newest state could draw flak for such indulgence, as farmers' suicides and other grave issues blight Telangana. Even the fortified bus, equipped with video-conferencing facilities, was procured through the state road transport corporation which is neck-deep in losses.
In May, the corporation's employees had gone on strike, demanding better pay and the state government, termed “revenue surplus” by KCR, gave in after 10 days, during which private carriers made hay as ordinary commuters suffered.
Not to lag behind the Telangana CM, his counterpart in the cash-strapped Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, has ordered a similar bus.
“Naidu travels a lot in the districts. The bus is intended to provide him the facility of conferencing with officials on the go while he can also stay put anywhere for the night with some added comfort,” a senior official in the Andhra chief minister's office told HT.
Earlier, in the aftermath of the super cyclone Hudhud, Naidu had monitored relief work operating from a bus in Vizag with very basic facilities.