New Delhi: A visit by a 12-member team of Indian parliamentarians to South Africa has been cancelled against the backdrop of the rising cases of Ebola. Officials, however, denied the deadly virus was the reason for cancelling the trip.
The team of parliamentarians was supposed to visit South Africa Aug 25-Sep 3. It was a routine parliamentary delegation that visits various friendly nations.
According to sources, some parliamentarians expressed fear over the spread of the Ebola fever in parts of Africa.
"There was some apprehension. However, the tour was cancelled for official reasons," said an official from the Lok Sabha Secretariat on the condition of anonymity.
Some parliamentarians gave a different version.
"It was a parliamentary goodwill delegation that was supposed to go to South Africa. But the trip was cancelled," Biju Janata Dal parliamentarian from Cuttack Bhartruhari Mahtab, one of the members of the delegation, told IANS.
"Official exigency was cited by the Lok Sabha Secretariat as the reason for cancelling the trip," he said.
Asked if the trip was rescheduled for a later date, he said he was not aware of it.
Trinamool Congress parliamentarian Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said she opted out of the trip as she was unwell.
"I am not aware of the reason why the trip was cancelled. I was not well, so I excused myself from the trip," Dastidar told IANS.
Sources close to BJP parliamentarian Poonam Mahajan, who was also one of the members, said she opted out because of party work.
Ebola has so far claimed nearly 1,500 lives in the four affected countries of west Africa - Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.