K Chandrasekhar Rao
Hyderabad, July 3: A Rs 5-crore bullet-proof bus dubbed "a moving office" has been bought for Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, triggering accusations of profligacy and suggestions he is trying to ape his Andhra counterpart Chandrababu Naidu who boasts a similar vehicle.
Rao's office rejected the claims and said the white Mercedes-Benz, equipped with computers and video-conferencing facilities, would be used for the chief minister's frequent tours of the state that has several Maoist-infested areas.
"A bus is the easiest way for the chief minister to meet people and move among them. It is not really a luxury bus. It doesn't even have a bed. It has only 12 seats, for the chief minister and his aides, to travel and hold meetings on the move," a spokesperson for Rao said.
The official asserted that the bus had been recommended by security agencies which had apparently favoured it over smaller bullet-proof vehicles as the larger room offered the chief minister the option of not getting off in high-risk zones.
A puja was performed this morning on the bus, which had arrived from Chandigarh where a vehicle-design firm souped up the interiors and installed the facilities.
Rao reportedly insisted on not having a bedroom in the bus and wanted it to be more of a workplace. The bus has stairs inside to the roof, so the chief minister can address people from the top.
But suggestions of lavishness refused to go away, with Rao's rivals pointing out that the Rs 5-crore bus had been ordered at a time around 700 debt-steeped farmers allegedly committed suicide since Telangana was formed last year.