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‘Speaker`s foreign visits were official`

The foreign visits undertaken by Meira Kumar were part of her official responsibilities and not to holiday destinations, Lok Sabha Secretariat said.

New Delhi: The foreign visits undertaken by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar were part of her official responsibilities and not to holiday destinations, the Lok Sabha Secretariat said on Wednesday.

Reacting to news reports on the Speaker embarking on a foreign visit every 37 days which cost nearly Rs 10 crore, the Secretariat said in a release that Kumar`s visits were part of her official responsibilities.

"In her official capacity, the Speaker has to lead Indian Parliamentary Delegations to the Conferences of the Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), of which India is a member," the statement said.

It said bilateral exchanges of Parliamentary delegations on goodwill visits have become more regular as parliamentary diplomacy gained ground as a major complement to other diplomatic initiatives.

"The news items and their wording tend to mislead the readers by suggesting that these visits were to holiday destinations," it said.

The statement also said that MPs of all political parties were part of the delegation and often travelled economy class as against their entitlement for first class travel in airlines.

It said that a large number of foreign Parliamentary delegations also visited Parliament in the last three years.

The Secretariat, in response to an RTI query, had said that the Speaker had undertaken as many 29 foreign trips in 35 months since assuming the high office in 2009.


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