Several RTI requests reveal that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-publicised US visit had cost the exchequer more than Rs 9 crore last year.
An RTI activist from Ahmedabad, who requested to be anonymous, says that he had filed a request on the expenses incurred on PM Modi’s US trip in 2014 (MOEAF/R/2015/80005 dated December 12, 2014).
In its response on February 23, the Prime Minister Office replied, ” In connection with the Prime Minister’s visit to New York during September 2014, this mission has booked an expenditure of Rs 5,09,66, 491/- as on 23rd February 2015.”
According to the reply, the PMO had forwarded the Ahmedabad RTI activist’s original request to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.
However, while responding to another request from the same activist on January 7, 2015, the PMO said that the expenditure incurred by Indian embassy Washington during PM’s visit to New York in September 2014 was close to Rs 1 crore.
The replied said, “On behalf of the Embassy of India, Washington DC, (the expense) was US $142261.61 equivalent to INR 8815421.00 and the same has been debited to Emabassy of India, Washington DC.”
Indian embassy in Wasington also paid over Rs 3 lakh towards Prasar Bharti’s expenses, says the RTI reply.
The RTI activist claims the PMO, in their separate reply, also mentioned the expenditure of over Rs 3 crore during the same US visit thereby taking the total cost to over Rs 9 crore.
The activist believes that the real cost could have been much higher but the PMO has ‘not been honest’ in divulging all the details.
He told Janta Ka Reporter over the phone, ” It’s been a painstaking process to get these information. They are very reluctant in divulging any expense information about the PM’s visit. I had requested for the total cost incurred on PM Modi’s visit till date and the number of MoU signed by him. Unfortunately, all I have got so far expense details on his New York trip, and that too in installments.”
In another reply to an RTI request in December 2014, the PMO had clarified that Modi had ‘not signed any MoU’ during his US visit.
Modi’s maiden US visit as India’s prime minister was widely reported by Indian media with his speech at Madison Square before an audience largely consisting of Indian diaspora dominating headlines for all sorts of reasons.