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Updated: March 5, 2014 01:29 IST

Nepal PM sets an austere example

Praveen Swami
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Sushil Koirala
Sushil Koirala

His BIMSTEC team had seven officials — Manmohan Singh went with over 100 delegates

Flying in to Myanmar’s capital on a scheduled flight even as his peers arrived on special aircraft, Nepal’s newly appointed Prime Minister Sushil Koirala held out a quiet lesson in austerity to regional leaders who are attending a seven-nation summit in Myanmar.

Mr. Koirala, Nepali diplomatic sources said, flew business class from Kathmandu to Bangkok on a scheduled Thai airways flight and then caught connecting flights to Yangon and Nay Pyi Daw after an overnight layover on Sunday.

His delegation is made up just seven officials — in stark contrast with the over 100 delegates, staff and media who have accompanied Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the summit. Mr. Singh and his entourage, which includes 37 journalists, flew in on a Boeing 747 chartered from Air India.

Mr. Koirala, who spent three years in jail in India decades ago on charges of hijacking a plane carrying cash to fund pro-democracy politics in Nepal, is known for his austere lifestyle.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa also arrived in a chartered aircraft, a Sri Lankan airlines Airbus A-340. Mr. Rajapaksa’s delegation was made up of 71 people. Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina brought an entourage of 37, including five independent journalists.

“Don’t give people ideas,” joked External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, responding to Nepali media reports that incorrectly claimed that Mr. Koirala had travelled economy class. “They’ll expect all of us to do the same.”

Mr Khurshid, however, flew business class to Nay Pyi Taw, like Mr. Koirala.

Large expenses by leaders on foreign tours have become a politically volatile issue in many cash-strapped countries. Last year, revelations that Mr. Singh had spent Rs. 640 crore on foreign tours since 2004 generated a large flow of critical media comment.

Urgent need to learn something from our neighbouring country inspite of
laughing at them. Someone explain this point to Mr. Khurshid. Ok. Maynot
be Koirala have come through economy class, but with this cannot we get
a good Idea to save money and put them in the development of North
Eastern areas which is the prime need of the hour. 100 People- are they
going to attack someone. I think this number of representative of
government in a foreign country should be limited to 20 and media
representative to 8.

from:  Payal
Posted on: Mar 5, 2014 at 05:54 IST

Nothing but respect!

from:  Jaikishan
Posted on: Mar 5, 2014 at 01:57 IST
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