An RTI report has revealed that the Planning Commission had spent a whopping Rs 35 lakh on the renovation of two toilets in Yojna Bhawan. Although Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of Planning Commission, yesterday reasoned out the need for the restoration work, the BJP didn’t seem to be in the mood to buy the case presented by him.

Several BJP leaders questioned that at a time when the country is going though serious financial crisis, and the PM and Finance Minister are exhorting government departments to observe austerity, how can the spending on washrooms be justified?

“They have nothing to do with the common man. It was the same Planning Commission that had said that those who spend more than Rs 32 a day in cities, and Rs 26 in villages are above the poverty line,” said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.  “This reflects the basic character of UPA-II. There is an ocean of difference between what they preach and practice,” said Balbir Punj, another BJP leader, 

The Commission, in a statement, said that the money was spent for the routine maintenance and clarified that toilets were not meant exclusively for the senior staff.  Downplaying the storm, even Ahluwalia said the renovation work was carried out well within the budget. “There’s nothing wrong in cleaning up the facilities. Besides, Yojna Bhawan is a 50-year-old building. All the toilets here have been upgraded,” he added. Ahluwalia had faced severe criticism after it was reported that he spent Rs 2.02 lakh a day while on foreign tours between May and October 2011.