Millennium Post

Economy class

During UPA’s second innings, Thiruvananthapuram MP and MOS external affairs, Shashi Tharoor had created quite a furore with his travelling ‘cattle class’ remark after the Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had announced an austerity drive. While Tharoor was subsequently rebuked for his naivety, the issue saw the seething Gandhi scion travel to Ludhiana in an air-conditioned chair car train.

But that was the UPA regime which in spite of being a coalition was such a bad example of how amalgamated decision making could bring the country to shards and the limping efforts towards cost cutting were also conveniently forgotten, once it found itself in political dire straits. 2014 however saw the power shift and Narendra Modi ascended the position of prime minister from being Gujarat’s chief minister for 14 years. Modi, who is known to be a master strategist, is as much emotive as required and usually likes to govern from behind the veils, has through his finance minister Arun Jaitley also asked government departments to cut non plan expenditure by 10 per cent. This means that the government is not in any favour to hold meetings in five-star hotels, host seminars abroad and also desist government officials from travelling first class on air journeys.

The basic difference between the UPA and the NDA approach is the widely conflicting personalities of Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. While Gandhi is usually found wanting in matters related to governance, Modi on the other hand means business. However, even after the eulogies the NDA government still risks the possibility of let the austerity drive slip a la UPA.

Traditionally, India has been an epitome of how good measures are shown the door always and murky politics is brought to the forefront by want of choice. Thus if tomorrow this austerity drive finds itself as another piece of paper in the finance ministry’s North Block office don’t be surprised. But what might take us off guard will be the NDA’s persistence. Will Jaitley and Modi be able to offer the paradigm shift that India needs? Let’s wait and watch.   
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