Foreign jaunt by Cong legislators triggers controversy

A trip to European countries by a group of ruling Congress legislators in Karnataka, when some parts of the state were hit by floods, has triggered a controversy.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014, 22:13 PM IST

Bangalore: A trip to European countries by a group of ruling Congress legislators in Karnataka, when some parts of the state were hit by floods, has triggered a controversy.

As about 15 MLAs were enjoying their tour, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters that he was not aware of the trip and no way connected with it.

"I am not aware of their visit to the European countries and I am no way connected to the issue," he said, adding "None of them have intimated me about their trip to European countries."

Asked if they would be called back, he replied in the negative.

Siddaramaiah said the government was tackling the situation caused by floods.

A similar planned junket of 100 MLAs in batches to Australia and New Zealand, had triggered a major controversy in December last year, especially when large parts of the state were reeling under drought.

After the public outcry against the foreign jaunts, Karnataka Speaker Kagodu Thimappa had put on hold the trips while some parts of the state were reeling under severe drought.

This prompted the government to set up a committee which recommended doing away with the present system in which MLAs who are members of many Legislature Committees are entitled to go on tours abroad on an ad hoc basis.

Thimappa had said it would not be fair for the government to ban junkets, but send the legislators on subject-specific tours on rotation basis.

However, Cooperation Minister Mahadev Prasad came to the defence of the legislators now on tour saying that they are visiting the foreign locale, paying out of their pockets.

"They (legislators) have gone on their own. They are paying out of their pockets, not by spending public money," he said.