Bhubaneswar, Aug. 23: BJD ministers “official trip” to Delhi to attend a party rally has given a chance to the Opposition to hit out at the ruling party.
With fact and figures from government sources, The Telegraph had run an expose on nine BJD ministers going to Delhi on “official trip” and using government accommodation at the expense of the state exchequer.
The ministers had gone to Delhi to attend BJD’s Swabhiman rally held at the Ramlila Maidan on June 12 to drum up support for the party’s demand to grant special category state status to Odisha.
Referring to the report, Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan flayed the ministers for claiming their trip to Delhi on a party programme as official.
“When the state has been demanding special category status on the basis of poverty and economic backwardness, it’s unfortunate that the BJD ministers spent public money on air travel, conveyance and boarding for partisan purpose,” he said.
When it was pointed out that these ministers were yet to draw the travel and dearness allowance from the state exchequer, Harichandan said they had made their claims.
Quoting Odisha Ministers’ Travelling Allowance Rules, he said when a bill was presented it was presumed that the tour was official. No certificate is needed to support the claim.
The Congress leader said four BJD ministers had travelled to Delhi in advance to make arrangements for the rally.
They had stayed in Odisha Bhavan, the official guesthouse of state government and held press conferences on the party’s rally.
“This is a brazen instance of misusing official position for partisan purpose. This has never happened in the past,” said Harichandan, a former minister.
He claimed that the ruling party had collected huge funds from industrial houses and businessmen for the rally. An industrial house donated Rs 5 crore for the purpose.
“Still, the BJD ministers squandered the state exchequer for the party’s rally,” said the Congress leader.
Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Bhupinder Singh also condemned the misuse of official machinery and funds for partisan purpose.
The issue assumes importance in the context of Naveen Patnaik government’s claim of probity and transparency in public life.
The nine ministers, who visited Delhi for the Swabhiman Samavesh showing the trip as official, had actually focused their attention on the rally.
Chief minister, Naveen Patnaik had given some of them the exclusive responsibility of organising logistics for the rally and mobilising support for it in Delhi and its outskirts.