Archive for September, 2009

Twittering Classes

September 22, 2009

A witless retort by the witty and well-heeled Minister of State, Shashi Tharoor on Twitter that he would travel “cattle class in solidarity with all our holy cows” ended up as a costly mistake for him and for the Congress Party as the Congress Party High Command initiated a drive for austerity.

The Congress Party High Command had urged all its leaders, ministers and workers to adopt austerity measures at a time when drought is affecting several parts of the country.  The Congress spokesperson, Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan, strongly condemned Tharoor’s remark, saying “the Congress disapproved of it, as it was not in sync with the party’s political culture”.

Previously, the Minister of External Affairs, Mr. S.M. Krishna and his junior Minister of State, Mr. Shashi Tharoor had left their temporary five star hotels where each minister had run up a tab of almost one crore (ten million) rupees for several months stay. Although both of them insisted they had paid using their own money, it seemed unsightly that two public servants serving in a government which claims to work for the common man (“Aam aadmi”) should be living the five star life while tens of millions of poor people only see stars when they look up in the sky, often lying on their backs on the unpaved pavements of many of India’s overcrowded cities.

The opposition parties lost no time in grabbing the bull by the horns as they sought to milk Tharoor’s dairy gaffe. For the urbane former UN Under Secretary General, used to a lifestyle of the proverbial “peaces and cream”, the milk of human kindness must have seemed to curdle leaving him with sour cream, not to mention a bitter aftertaste of political indigestion.

The Congress Party leaders, ever since they coined the political slogan of “working for the common man” combined with their “austerity measures” lost no time and spared no expense to get their related and relatively younger generation of politicians scrambling on board private planes to fly to the corners of the country to meet the common man, and his cohorts, in his milieu. The leaders hope to keep the followers informed on how the Congress Party was austerely steering the ship of state, hopefully into flowing water (which would help with the drought).

Rahul Gandhi had already displayed his uncommon caring for the common man, by spending a night at a “basti” (the common man’s rural dwelling). Now he and his assistants and Special Protection Group security detail flew in a private plane and then transferred to a private helicopter to reach the remote locations where common men (and women) abound. Rahul Gandhi had already stated that “I generally tend to keep myself austere” and that was the case as he deplaned from his private plane wearing simple khadi that would have found favour with Gandhi (both Mahatma and Sonia).

The Hindu newspaper has established that “…at about Rs.1.5 lakh (hundred thousand) an hour for a helicopter, and Rs. 1.1 lakh an hour for the Beechcraft aircraft that Mr. Gandhi used for most of the long haul, his Tamil Nadu darshan would have cost the Indian National Youth Congress over Rs. 1 crore in helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft hire charges”.

Meanwhile, in an ongoing saga, the Union Finance Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukhergee, is conducting discussions with the Swiss government on the reported 1.5 trillion dollars secreted in secret Swiss bank accounts. To their credit, the secretive Swiss bankers have kept a tight lid on their coffers and their lips. The UPA government, without doubt, will probably forcefully demand that the Swiss bankers reveal the names and accounts of the high and mighty however close to home the foreign money trail leads.

Many Bollywood movies use Switzerland as their locale to film their escapist entertainment dance sequences. Wouldn’t it be worthy of a nice Bollywood film ending, if the UPA government leading men and women could make the Swiss bankers sing and then with all the money flowing into India and into the pockets of the poor, the Aam aadmi (common man) would be dancing to the tune of “Jai Ho”. Now that is something to make everyone atwitter.

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