Follow what you preach. Perhaps this is what Sonia Gandhi believes in because on Saturday when it was time for her to return to New Delhi she didn't call for a chartered flight or private chopper. Instead she flew economy class on an Indian Airlines flight from Amausi Airport.
IC 812 took her from Lucknow with all the other passengers on board at 5:55 pm. She took her seat 8A and two seats next to her (8B and 8C) were left vacant. Passengers travelling with her were not subjected to any inconvenience and there were no delays because of security checks.
Airport staff said that Sonia Gandhi's car went right up to the tarmac and she boarded her flight from there. There is a VIP gate at the airport that takes SPG protected people till the tarmac.
A passenger on the flight said that people were taken by surprise when they saw that they had nothing less than Sonia Gandhi amongst them. He said, "The passengers were not hassled at all and they were not aware till the last moment."
Austerity does not stop here. Congress has infact clearly sent out a message to all the state units to cut down on expenses- no floral bouquets or garlands, no five star accommodations and no flashy cars. Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee members were seen running to Gandhi Ashram to get 'sutli' (jute) garlands that have floral motifs made on them and cost just Rs 5 when Rahul Gandhi visited UP this week.
"We've got very strict instructions about cutting down expenses. We don't book flashy cars or buy expensive bouquets for the party chiefs. When Rahul Gandhi was in the State recently he had strictly told that he should not be put up in a five star accommodation," sources say.
This is not the first time Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi travelled economy class. When Congress began the austerity drive a few months back, Sonia travelled economy to Mumbai. Taking cue from mother, son Rahul travelled in Shatabdi from New Delhi to Ludhiana.
The senior Gandhi was behind the austerity drive decision and had asked ministers SM Krishna and Shashi Tharoor to vacate five star accommodations and move to modest accommodation.