Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ministers Staying in Five Star Hotels - Why Such a Controversy for a Non-Issue?

A controversy has broken out after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee asked External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Minister of State for External Affairs Dr Shashi Tharoor to vacate their suites in five star hotels where they were staying since Dr Manmohan Singh government took over. Both ministers have claimed that they are paying money from their own pocket for the daily rent.

Now the channel, visual media and people have started reacting like these two ministers have committed a big crime. See some reactions of readers that are published in Indian Express

The PM should hang his head in shame due to such a shameful act of his non-performing ministers. The minimum that the PM can do is to sack these ministers thereby granting them the freedom of living in expensive hotels on their own expenses, if they are so rich. The Indian public can not afford them and do not need them at all for such a high price tag.

Another proof that educated ministers are not necessarily the solution. This is another shame for all of us. Shashi tharoor came India not to serve but to be served. These kind of people educated people of Kerala and Karnataka have elected. We are surely bound to progress. God, please help us.

Now my question is – why does staying of these two ministers in Five Star hotel paying from their own pocket became such a big controversy? I think such an act by Ministers should be appreciated. Why? Instead of looking for avenues to make money in politics aren’t they setting a good example by spending their own money which in turn will be used for the developmental activities rather than that money being locked in some savings account?

Now when the minister stays in a five star hotel for three months and pays from his own pocket it is a huge amount of money. That money can be used by the hotel to pay its employees or for hiring new employees or for building new hotels that can give job to more people or invest in some other areas by the hotel that can create job/wealth for the common man. If these ministers used the government guest house and never spend that money does this money ever come to the hands of common man? Another point to remember – they are spending this much money since they have enough savings as “white money” and not “black money” as majority of the politicians have.

Now the question – why do such controversies arouse and why people leave message like one above? Reason is simple – We Indians think that politics is a social service and politicians are not entitled to do stuff other people do in their day to day life. Even in 21st century, majority of the people are not ready to accept that politics has to be considered a profession like any other job. If your job is that of a politician, your boss is people and if the people are satisfied with your performance they promote you and can climb politician ladders. If the boss doesn’t like you, then you are fired from the job.

If we consider politics also as a profession, then such controversies will never arise. Let me make my point clear with an example. Assume an engineer working with the Central Government of India for the last 25 years gets transferred to a new place. When he reports there for work he is told that he will get his new accommodation in another three months. For three months he goes and stays in a very expensive hotel in the place of work paying from his own pocket. This engineer like minister is a public servant. Does any one cares for how the engineer spends his money? Why? We feel that the money engineer earned is through his profession and can use it the way he wants. Now if the same thing a politician does what will be the reaction of the crowd? All hell will break loose – why? Being a politician is never considered as a profession in India and as such politician is never expected to even spend his own money for his private needs the way he/she wants.

Time to change our views about 21st century politicians…

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Blogger Karthikeyan said...

Looks like a non-issue. Even the media can hype this only so much.

We shouldn't take the comment section from such forums too seriously. Its only bad for our BP. I think you haven't read comments section in rediff. Just for fun look at the comments section for the National Awards news item :)

September 09, 2009 5:16 AM  
Blogger Mani said...

Agreed! Instead of having got locked in a swizz bank, it is better if it is spent at home. They are honest and It is white money. Excellent perspectives!

With respect, I don't completely agree on drawing a comparison between an engineer and a politician though. Because an engineer has only one boss but a politician has (ideally!) thousands of bosses (people from the constituency) and a team lead (PM). It is bad some of the bosses are idiots but it is only unfortunate!

Good thoughts.

September 09, 2009 8:00 AM  
Blogger Urs....Jina said...

Though I totally agree that its a controversy on a non issue, I dont agree to ministers staying in five star hotels FOR THREE MONTHS even if that means paying from their own pockets.
We are so quick to blame globalization and US and all sortsa things leading us to consumerism and what not. And taking a leaf from your own example, that money can be spent on a lot of development work.

As much as I respect Tharoor (He is literally my icon)- I seriously think he is setting a bad example by showing he cant adjust to a real India which might not be all luxury and comforts all the time. It would have been much better if he had rented out an apartment with all the needed privacy and gym facilities if he was so keen on that.

But someone should kick the ass of media for blowing up such issues and making a big deal out of it

September 09, 2009 8:31 AM  
Blogger scorpiogenius said...

The guys who are irked by this episode are either ill-informed about this or belong to the batch that are green-eyes because of the popularity of Tharoor and the UPA Govt. What is the big deal if Tharoor wants to stay in a 5* hotel if it is not paid by the taxpayer? He has expressed his stand that the Kerala house doesn't have a Gymnasium or a health club, so he chose to stay in the Hotel. Afterall he is an individual and has the right to spend his hard earned money the way he likes.. And staying in a star hotel is no crime, is it?

The best thing to do is to laugh at these 'controversy makers' and move on.. huh, they'll stop after they get vocal cord palsy shouting out nonsense :)

September 09, 2009 8:37 AM  
Blogger keralafarmer said...

Anybody know how much money spending by Pinarayi Vijayan for Lavlin case to provide Advocates in supreme courtwho are taking so many lakhs? Is this money is collected from the common man? There was news about collecting money from the common man to spend for that case.
I would like to appreciate both ministers for staying on five star hotels on their own expenses. A income from the five star hotel as tax which will come to the Govt. treasury too.

September 09, 2009 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Siva said...

The controversy is not about who pays the bill. It is about ministers who are part of a government which claims to represent aam admi spending Rs 100,000 per night.

Government should take note of how people perceive it and can't turn blind to public sentiments . I would say it is an occupational hazard of being in public life and one has to live with it.

September 09, 2009 11:56 PM  
Blogger absolute_void(); said...


It is not a personal issue, but a political one. If you carefully read through the words of Pranab Mukherjee, you could decipher the inner meaning of it. He "ordered", not "requested" the ministers to move to their respective "Bhavans" (read: Karnataka Bhavan and Kerala Bhavan). This clearly signifies the unpopularity of this ministers amongst the "High Command".

This feeling is not stemmed from jealousy. SM Krishna is doing a Shivraj Patil in fashion statements. You could also see Sasi Tharoor tweating all niceties and giving interviews to glossy magazines, world over. But both of them are practically poor in international relations and politics. Tharoor does not make any critical foreign policy statements. SM Krishna states blunders. I am not here to handpick his falls. But one who reads the foreign policy statements could identify those.

If Brazil is able to engage with US and do business with Venuzuela, thats the strength of their foreign ministry. But our foreign ministry is not up to the mark. At the same time, ministers of the portfolio is residing in star hotels and that too, SM Krishna in presidential suit. You know the daily rent and let alone Tharoor, where did SM Krishna found that much money to pay the rent from his pocket? That statement is just an eye-wash. Minister's expense will be from the exchequer.

On a side note, I would say that Mr. Tharoor is not even taking the tactical positions, TP Sreenivasan does. That is the difference between a real IR person and a PR face.

September 10, 2009 5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point is where they paid out for the expenses.Even at 50 K a day, thats half a crore for 3 months and doubt the ministers would spend that from their pocket.
Guess Mr tharoor is here for the glamour of the role, as a consolation prize for not getting the UN secretary general seat !

September 13, 2009 2:40 PM  
Blogger Siva said...

See the most austere ministers of UPA government.

September 14, 2009 1:47 AM  
Blogger Ashokan said...

Being leaders of the masses in a third world country, it was quite inappropriate for them to spend a huge amount of money for personal comforts. That fact that the money went from their pocket does not justify their action. They could have spent it for a better cause and set a good example.
Once upon a time this party was led by a very rich man who chose to go half naked when he realised that many Indians could not afford proper clothing.

September 14, 2009 7:33 AM  
Blogger ചന്തു said...

+1 to Asokan

"A income from the five star hotel as tax which will come to the Govt. treasury too." - kfarmer
very bad and funny comment.
The problem is the source, the money they spend in the hotels and the type of privacy they are demanding while they are serving the people. I think a politician should not gain so much privacy like a celebrity atleast during their governance periods. They are doing the service to the people and they must be with the people ,common people and must not be above them. This shows they will be ready to compromise with the established monopolies for improving their lexury. Remember gandhiji was half naked not because he had any money with him but because he know majority of his people are half naked(at that time).

September 28, 2009 2:59 PM  
Blogger cristian said...

My sincere opinion is that politicians will always take advantage of money that aren't theirs to spend like crazy. Many honest people do not understand that politicians are a special breed that consumes money for their own interest and pleasure.
Hotel Supply

December 07, 2009 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Cairns Hotels said...

I agree with you all. Government official shouldn't stay in a luxury hotel and spend too much money for casinos and hotel rooms because I don't think that a minister do have that huge amount of money, if he's only job is a government official.

December 15, 2009 1:40 PM  

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