PMO clams up about money spent on Modi's foreign visits

An RTI filed by Mumbai resident Mansoor Darvesh about the delegates who accompanied PM Narendra Modi on his foreign visits and the amount of money spent on those tours has opened a Pandora’s box. The Prime Minister’s Office claims it doesn’t have records of the delegates and the financial details are “too wide and vague”. Opposition leaders claim the government is refusing to share information fearing public outcry

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign visits have been the talk of the town ever since he became the country’s PM in May 2014. While he has managed to win over the hearts of a few, there are many who wonder how much of the common man’s hard-earned money has been used to sponsor these trips. Mumbai resident Mansoor Darvesh filed a Right to Information (RTI) plea on December 24, 2014 demanding to know the number of foreign visits Modi has made from May 2014 to November 30, 2014, the delegates who have accompanied him and the amount spent on these trips. The reply that he got from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was far from satisfactory.

PM Narendra Modi has  visited eight countries including USA, Bhutan, Nepal, Australia, Fiji, Japan, Brazil, and Australia till November 30, 2014. He is seen here with his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, and the Australian Leader of  Opposition, Bill Shorten, during a dinner hosted by Abbott in Melbourne, Australia in November  last year. File photo
PM Narendra Modi has visited eight countries including USA, Bhutan, Nepal, Australia, Fiji, Japan, Brazil, and Australia till November 30, 2014. He is seen here with his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, and the Australian Leader of Opposition, Bill Shorten, during a dinner hosted by Abbott in Melbourne, Australia in November last year. FILE PHOTO

It only answered Darvesh’s one query, stating that Modi has made nine visits to eight countries — USA, Bhutan, Nepal (twice), Australia, Fiji, Japan, Brazil and Australia. As for the list of delegates, the PMO replied, “The information sought is not part of records held by this office.”

Darvesh said, “This is unacceptable. Every entry records the names of visitors at the PM’s office but the PMO claims it doesn’t have a record of delegates visiting foreign countries with Modi. This is hard to believe. The PMO must be aware about the tax payers’ money spent and every penny should be accounted for.”

sunday mid-day’s detailed questionnaire to the PMO seeking a reply about Darvesh’s RTI went unanswered.

Opposition speaks
Secretary of All Indian Congress and former MP from Mumbai North, Sanjay Nirupam, said, “It’s unacceptable that the PMO doesn’t have information about the delegates as the PM invites them to these trips. The government is trying to hide information.”

Mansoor Darvesh (below) filed an RTI plea to know the number of foreign visits Modi made between May and November 30, 2014. (Above) PM Modi and US President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington in September 2014
Mansoor Darvesh (below) filed an RTI plea to know the number of foreign visits Modi made between May and November 30, 2014. (Above) PM Modi and US President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington in September 2014

Nationalist Congress Party’s MLA Jitendra Awhad couldn’t agree more. He said, “Modi had created a hype over foreign tours and now that the frenzy is over, he has adopted an autocratic attitude. The PMO fears public outcry if the information is shared.”

Mansoor Darvesh

However, Prakash Bal Joshi, a political analyst, said, “The PM has visited several foreign countries to reach out to the investors and trade markets. Yet, the PMO should have provided all the information as it is part of the public domain anyway when it’s tabled in the Parliament.”

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