New Delhi, June 1: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s bid to limit junkets by MPs on parliamentary committees and curb expenses during trips has offended some MPs, especially those from the BJP.
The members are agitated over the “tone and tenor” of the guidelines the House secretariat issued a fortnight ago.
So offended were members of the public accounts committee by the 19-point “dos and don’ts” that they decided at a meeting yesterday to cancel a tour to Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
The members of the panel, which is headed by BJP deputy leader in the House V.K. Malhotra, said the tone of the guidelines was “humiliating” and showed them in a “poor light”.
Malhotra reportedly intervened and avoided a confrontation by persuading them to go ahead with the tour and promised to take up the issue with Chatterjee.
The secretariat said the new set of norms was not the brainchild of the Speaker alone and that he had consulted Rajya Sabha chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.
In fact, secretariat sources said, he had consulted almost all leaders of major parties before formulating the rules. Most of them, including Advani, agreed that wasteful expenditure should be curbed, the sources said, adding that the fresh guidelines had also evoked a favourable response from the public.
The highlights of the revised guidelines are:
Parliamentary committees should not undertake on-the-spot surveys unless it is absolutely necessary
If such a tour is essential, a small sub-committee or study group of not more than one-third of the members of the panel could be formed
Members should maintain dignity and decorum on tours
No gifts are to be accepted by the members/officers of the committee/sub-committee/study group
Sufficient notice of the tour programme should be given to the administrative ministries/state governments or undertakings concerned
While on tours, MPs should not accept lunch or dinner invitations or any hospitality extended by a private party