Former chief ministers of Assam will henceforth enjoy cabinet status, thanks to a recent decision by the Tarun Gogoi cabinet. They will also enjoy perks like a fully furnished bungalow, one private secretary, one assistant, one driver, two peons and four PSOs. At present, the State has three ex-chief ministers, mely Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Bhumidhar Barman and Anwara Taimur to avail of these facilities. Detractors are taking pot shots that Tarun Gogoi has suddenly become very mindful of the comforts of former chief ministers because he sees himself in their company soon! Be as it may, this is yet another example of the political class forcing itself on the taxpaying public. In the past, Assam legislators have displayed remarkable unimity in hiking their salaries, and are presently among the highest-paid MLAs in the country. Yet there is a headlong rush among ruling party MLAs here to go one better — if not a ministership, at least a parliamentary secretaryship or some chairmanship! There is also a resolution by the Assembly demanding an Upper House, which the Parliament is considering. What matters though is how much legislative work is actually being done in the State. As for former chief ministers, surely they deserve a retired life with dignity. But where does necessity end and ostentation begin? Former chief minister late Sarat Chandra Sinha moving by bus or on foot freely among the people is but a fading memory of a bygone age.