Mumbai: Days after a bitter controversy over the killing of nearly 3 lakh rats in 'Mantralaya' erupted, a 'massive' tea scam has now surfaced in the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's Office (CMO).
Calling it a 'massive' tea scam, the Maharashtra Congress on Wednesday alleged that an average of 18,500 cups of the hot beverage is being served at the state's Chief Minister's Office (CMO) daily.
Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, who furnished RTI documents on Twitter, alleged that there has been a dramatic and steady increase in the amount of expenses incurred on tea consumption in the CMO in the past three years.
Citing RTI replies, the Congress leader said the amount spent on tea has risen from Rs 57,99,150 (nearly Rs 58 lakh) in 2015-16 to Rs 3,34,64.904 (nearly Rs 3.4 crore) in 2017-18.
"This is a staggering increase of 577 percent. It means that on an average, a whopping 18,591 cups of tea are served in CMO daily... How is it possible?" he asked.
The amount spent on tea has risen from approx ₹ 58 lakh in 2015-2016 to ₹3,34,64,904 ( 3.4Crore) in 2017-2018, an increase of a staggering 577%. pic.twitter.com/ON5LnmpJCX
— MumbaiCongress (@INCMumbai) March 28, 2018
Seeking to know "what kind of tea is (Chief Minister Devendra) Fadnavis drinking, since we have heard of only green tea, yellow tea and so on", Nirupam sarcastically observed that "the CM and CMO seem to be indulging in some kind of highly expensive 'golden' tea' to mount up such a huge bill".
Attacking the Fadnavis government over its total apathy to farmers' woes, he said that it's an irony that farmers are dying daily in Maharashtra, but the CMO seems to be incurring an unprecedented expense on "serving tea worth crores of rupees".
Alleging corruption in the tea bills of the CMO, he said, "On one hand, the Prime Minister takes great pride in saying that he was a 'Chaiwala'. On the other hand, Fadnavis has clearly taken this a bit too far with the massive and unnecessary expense incurred on serving tea in his office. Both the PM and the Maharashtra CM are taking the country for a ride in the name of chai."
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) March 28, 2018
To a question whether it's practical or feasible to serve tea to more than 18,000 people in the CMO every day, Nirupam quipped that "those Mantralaya rats must be drinking it all up...!"
He was referring to an alleged scam highlighted by BJP ex-minister Eknath Khadse, who claimed that around 319,400 rats were eliminated in just one week in Mantralaya.
Later clarifying on the issue, the state government said that he was referring to 319,400 doses of rat poison which were deployed in Mantralaya to kill the rodents.
Nirupam said the huge expenses incurred or the inflated bills for serving tea at the CMO needs to be probed as it is done at the cost of honest taxpayers' money.
"This is happening right under the CM's nose and in the CMO. It must be investigated who is doing it and action must be taken," he demanded.