Karnataka Minister Zameer Khan wants a big car, preferably a Toyota Fortuner.
Bengaluru: Karnataka’s food and civil supplies minister B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan seems to have an appetite for big cars. He is not happy to use the Innova car allotted to him and wants a larger SUV. An he is specific: he wants a Toyota Fortuner. If a brand new one is not available, he has asked Chief minister HD Kumaraswamy to give him the Toyota Fortuner that was used by the former CM Siddaramaiah.
Speaking to the media, Khan gave two reasons: that he is used to always travelling in a big car; the second reason is bizarre and has made him a butt of jokes. He says nobody recognises him when he travels in an Innova. “But if I travel in a Fortuner, people will say Ha! Here come a mantri.”
When told that the Chief Minister himself is using his private car to cut cost, Khan gave another bizarre explanation. He said everybody recognises Kumaraswamy as he is very popular. “But nobody recognises me. Hence I need a Fortuner so that people start recognising me.”
When the authorities told him that the only big car they have is the Toyota Innova, Khan set his eyes on Siddaramaiah’s Toyota Fortuner, lying unused since Kumaraswamy has opted to travel in his own Range Rover.
And he wants the car used earlier by Siddaramaiah because people will may think that the former CM may be travelling in the car but will later realise that it is another important minister – `King Khan’ himself.
“I am used to travelling in big cars. So I have asked for the Toyota Fortuner being used by Siddaramaiah. There is absolutely no superstition involved in it. I don’t believe that power is permanent,” Khan said.
The Toyota Fortuner used by Siddaramaiah was allotted to Kumaraswamy. But he refused to use it and arranged his own transportation. He is using a black Range Rover belonging to his son and cine star Nikhil Kumaraswamy.
Former excise minister Manohar Tahsildar was also in the eye of a car storm when he was allotted an expensive SUV in violation of rules. This was done after he had complained of severe back pain.
Khan was earlier a darling of JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda, but later he had major differences and joined Congress party.
Deputy Chief Minister G Parameswara of the Congress refused to comment on Khan’s strange request.
Meanwhile, the chief minister has ordered his council of ministers not to purchase new cars for official purposes, and instead use ones used by ministers in the previous government.
The decision not to buy new cars is estimated to save the exchequer a minimum Rs 7 crore as each minister is entitled to purchase a car worth a maximum Rs 21 lakh.
But HDK’s top end customized Range Rover costs about Rs 1.5 crore. His detractors say it is easy to preach austerity from the comforts of a customized Range Rover.
HDK has also asked his ministers to fly economy and cut down on refurbishing and renovating government offices or residences. He hopes these measures will help fulfil his promise to waive farm loans — pegged at a staggering Rs 50,000 crore.
Setting an example, Kumaraswamy has decided not to shift into the official residence that he is entitled to as chief minister; he works from his own home in JP Nagar much to the inconvenience of his neighbours.