New Delhi: When former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan wanted a new official vehicle in 2016, she opted for a Jaguar sports luxury car.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat had then bought a white Jaguar XE Portfolio for Rs 48.25 lakh from the Delhi-based AMP Motors Private Limited. The secretariat had cited “security reasons” for opting for the high-end vehicle.
But in the little over three years since, the sedan is lying idle in the Parliament garage, government sources told The Print. Current Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla uses a Toyota Camry Hybrid worth Rs 36.74 lakh, according to a reply to an RTI filed by ThePrint.
A government source told ThePrint that Mahajan, who was the Speaker between 2014 and 2019, had used the Jaguar sedan, which has a mileage of 13 kmpl, only for a brief period as she found it uncomfortable.
“She stopped using it when she was the Speaker and instead began using the car she was using earlier — a Toyota Camry,” the source said. “Since then the Jaguar has been lying idle. No one else uses it. What is the point of buying a sports car at government expense and then keeping it idle?”
The Print mailed a questionnaire to Lok Sabha secretary general Snehlata Srivastava Wednesday but there has been no response.
Found the car uncomfortable: Mahajan
Talking to ThePrint from Indore, where she now lives, Mahajan said that as Speaker, she had selected a Jaguar.
“I don’t have much understanding of cars,” she said. “My only concern was that it should be comfortable for me to get in and sit. There were two Jaguar models that I saw but what was finally bought was different from the one that I had chosen.”
According to Mahajan, the Jaguar XE Portfolio had little leg space. “I found it very uncomfortable to get in and sit in the backseat because of limited leg space,” Mahajan said. “So, I stopped using it after some time. Maybe the car is fine for people driving it themselves but not for somebody like me.”
The former Lok Sabha speaker said she does not remember who recommended the Jaguar. “I also don’t know who is using it now or if it is lying idle,” she said.
Car overload at Lok Sabha secretariat
Since 2001, the cost of the vehicles used by the different Lok Sabha Speakers has been on the rise, according to an RTI reply. In the 18-year period, five cars have been bought for Lok Sabha Speakers.
These include an Ambassador worth Rs 3.91 lakh, a Honda Accord worth Rs 14.7 lakh, a Toyota Camry worth Rs 21 lakh, a Jaguar worth Rs 48.25 lakh and a Toyota Camry Hybrid worth Rs 36.74 lakh, which is being used by the current Speaker.
In the warrant of precedence, the Lok Sabha Speaker comes sixth after the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, former presidents and deputy prime minister and governors.