Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rahul's tokenism costs more than saves

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Congress party seems to be getting overboard with its austerity programme. If it was Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi travelling Economy Class, the Prime Minister in making Rahul Gandhi went a step ahead. Rahul felt an Economy class ticket would cost a bomb to the nation's exchequer and took the Swarn Shatabdi Express for his trip to Ludhiana to attend a political rally.

If his journey from Delhi to Ludhiana was full of glamorous media coverage, his return journey met with tragedy when window panes of three boogies in the train were stoned in Panipat. This raised an alarm with the security forces in the train and in Delhi as Rahul Gandhi is SPG protectee. Although Rahul put up a brave face upon his return to Delhi the security agencies not wanting to take any chance with the incident have started investigation.

The question that arises is what was Rahul's motive behind taking the train? The Congress and the government would maintain that it was to cut costs. True a Shatabdi ticket would have probably cost a fourth of an Economy Class train but what about the expenditure on security personal? It is anybody's guess how many police personal might have been deployed in all the stations where the train stopped. So did his trip cost less to the exchequer? The answer is pretty well known.

People like Rahul Gandhi taking the train for their political tokenism also causes a lot of unnecessary security threats for the passengers. Passengers travelling on such trains need to undergo more than normal frisking. If the stones thrown at the train was meant for Rahul Gandhi than the Congress General Secretary has no right to put so many people's lives at risk to gather political mileage for himself and his party.

Rahul Gandhi has mastered the politics of tokenism Be it raising the issue of Kalavati during the Parliament session or spending a night in a dalit's home with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. People in India need to understand that Rahul might share a common surname with the Mahatma but he is no Mahatma to do such acts all his life. Will he leave the comforts of flight travel or an air conditioned bungalow for all his life? So why mere acts of tokenism?


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