More austerity measures from India’s ministers unfolded over the weekend, as Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar flew from Mumbai to Delhi in a budget airline’s economy class, while Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee did the same while travelling to Kolkata and back from the Capital.
Their colleague and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who on directions from his Congress party last week moved out of the five-star hotel that was his temporary home, is also following suit.
On Tuesday, he will go to Turkeminstan and Belarus on an official trip in a commercial flight and not a private jet. His contingent will be reduced to three officials. Krishna said: “I will not henceforth use private planes for visits outside the country and will not travel business class.”
The External Affairs, Defence and Home Ministers are entitled to use one 14-seater Embraer plane for travel abroad.
Krishna said he would do the same during his visit to Moscow next month.
At a recent Cabinet meeting, ministers from UPA allies had voiced their disapproval of the government’s austerity drive, particularly with regard to air travel. Pawar had been one of them.
He had said that one of the hazards of travelling in economy class was constant intrusion by passengers, which hampered file work. Keeping his large frame in mind, Pawar had also said that a person like him would not be able to squeeze in the economy class.
Last week, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal cancelled a goodwill visit by a parliamentary delegation to Egypt and Greece to save the government exchequer some money. (With PTI inputs)