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Updated: September 15, 2009 18:43 IST

Now, Lalu wants leaders to travel in general compartments

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The Hindu

Even as more Union Ministers and Congress leaders join the austerity bandwagon, RJD chief Lalu Prasad is not impressed with the drive and wants Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to travel in trains.

The former Railway Minister said Dr. Singh and Sonia should take the lead and inculcate the “Gandhian way of austerity” by travelling in general compartments of trains before asking others to follow the suit.

“If they start inculcating austere lifestyle and become frugal, others will definitely follow the suit”, he said. “People at the top, including Ms. Gandhi and Dr.Singh, besides Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and others should inculcate the Gandhian way of austerity and his austere lifestyle so that the thought percolates to the lower level”, he said.

When asked whether he was suggesting this out of sarcasm, Mr.Prasad replied, “I am saying this with all seriousness“.

The comments came in the backdrop of the austerity drive in the Union government and in the Congress where ministers and leaders including Ms. Gandhi flew economy class in domestic flights in the recent days. Rahul Gandhi took a train and travelled in chair car on Tuesday.

“Mahatma Gandhi always preferred to travel in third class compartments... and remained frugal throughout his life”, the former Bihar Chief Minister said.

On Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Sonia travelling economy class by air recently, he said “there should not be any flight business as it also entails a heavy burden on the exchequer.”

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