A day after private airlines were forced to willingly accept the aviation ministry’s “recommendations” on privileges to be extended to MPs, more facilities have been added to the list.
MPs cutting across party lines were seen consulting each other in the corridors of Parliament on what more privileges could be sought.
A newspaper correspondent met with an Aviation Ministry spokesman and a ruling party MP who were discussing the matter. On asking about the new list, the aviation ministry spokesman admitted that all the MPs were not consulted before sending the first list to the airlines and it was only fair to add to it now.
He happily revealed the new facilities that were being sought. They are – no security check as MPs are always in a hurry, double the usual checked-in and cabin baggage allowances, no requirement to fasten seat belt, priority in toilet usage – that is, an ordinary passenger to be pulled out of the toilet when an MP wants to use it, special seats in the cockpit for better view and the aircraft to wait beyond scheduled departure time for MPs who are on the way.
When questioned as to why others should wait for an MP who is late, the official said “You see these are not ordinary passengers. They are busy leaders working for the country. At times, they may get stuck in traffic or may have overslept or might have to go back to pick up the spectacles they have left behind, etc., Busy people you know”.
The reporter asked “Sir, what is the rationale behind this directive?”
The MP pitched in, “Simple. It is high time the private airlines are brought under control and made to think of national interests.”
The reporter asked “Well…Sir, have the airlines agreed to all these points?”
“They have to. They shouldn’t have a problem with these at least”.
“You mean there are more?”
“Yes…..very minor things like ticketless travel, complimentary seats for bodyguards and escorts, free tickets for family and friends, ground transport and such things. Mind you, we don’t insist on business class…first class will do if business class is full. Of course, this is for ex-MPs too…and…free food and alcohol goes without saying.”
“For the families too? What if the MP is unmarried and has no family?”
“He or she can be compensated in cash.”
“But Sir, isn’t it indirectly the common man’s tax money that gets wasted for this?”
“You are mistaken. It is not being wasted. It is for the sake of the common man only that we travel. Also, why doesn’t the common too think of becoming an MP and make use of these facilities. Anything is possible in democracy.”
“OK Sir, but won’t the airlines end up in loss this way?”
It was now the turn of the spokesperson to answer. “Well not really. But in such a case let them give free food to only the ruling party MPs and not others. Anyway, Air India is already doing this.”
Later in a press conference, the chief of a leading private airline had this to say. “We have received a request from the aviation ministry for certain facilities and waivers to be provided to the honourable parliamentarians. While we are duty bound, in the interest of the nation, to agree to all the requests, one point we have happily agreed to is of MPs not having to wear seat belts. We like it. By the way, in an unrelated development, the foreign airline with whom we had recently finalized a sale of stake under the FDI route has backed off from the deal.”