The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CMs' foreign jaunts raise BJP hackles

Calcutta, Jan. 27: The BJP today said over Rs 22 lakh had been spent from the exchequer on foreign trips by Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, but not enough investment has come Bengal's way.

The party had requested the government to reveal how much it had spent on the chief ministers' foreign trips and how much investment they could attract.

The home department said in its reply that from 1991 to 2004, Bengal had received foreign direct investment worth Rs 5345.90 crore.

State BJP chief Tathagata Roy said his party would take to the streets against Basu's spending public money 'for having fun' and expressed doubts about the amount the government claimed to have spent on his trips.

Asked to comment on Bhattacharjee's trips, Roy said: 'Let me concentrate on the bigger financial implication first. I believe a higher amount had been spent on Basu's trips'.'

According to the reply submitted by A.G. Ghosh, joint secretary, home (political), Rs 18,25,600 was spent on Basu's trips, undertaken between 1987 and 2000. In Bhattacharjee's five years, the government spent about a fourth of that amount.

Asked to react to the BJP's allegation, state CPM secretary Anil Biswas said: 'I am not expected to know which minister or chief minister is putting up at which hotel, spending how much on food, incurring how much expenditure on travel. I can comment on my party's expenditure and if you want that, I would need a fortnight to furnish figures.'

The BJP chief refused to say whether the Trinamul Congress would join its agitation. But Trinamul MLA Pankaj Banerjee said he would persuade Mamata Banerjee to launch a joint agitation. 'Basu had made his London trips a calendar event and used to return empty-handed. Our present chief minister went to Italy and came back with promises, not investment.'

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