An RTI query made to seek the names of those MPs who are currently staying in state-owned hotels for temporary accomodation has been turned down by the government after the same having been directed to the respective hotels.
The ministry had sought an answer from Hotel Ashoka, Hotel Samrat and Hotel Janpath, whose services are availed by a lot of MPs for the purpose of temporary accommodation in the national capital.
A copy of replies from all three of these hotels in JantaKaReporter’s possession declines to provide the information while saying that it remains a trade secret.
The RTI reply said, ” A sum of Rs 21,90,45,362 has been incurred on the stay of Members of Parliamentin transit accommodation in hotels during 26th May, 2014 to 11th May 2015.”
This revelation is bound to generate debate on the central government’s so-called austerity drive. In October 2014, the government had announced its intention to embark on what it called was its austerity drive.
As part of this campaign, the government had barred bureaucrats from travelling first class on overseas visits, holding meetings in 5-star hotels and to use video conferencing as much as possible.
The government had further said that it intended to cut the non-plan expenditure by 10 per cent. A government communication had said, “While officers are entitled to various classes of air travel depending on seniority, utmost economy would need to be observed while exercising the choice keeping the limitations of budget in mind. However, there would no bookings in the first class.”
In March this year, newspapers had reported on the government running up a bill of Rs. 25 crore on the hotel stay of Lok Sabha members in the capital since the May 2014 general elections. This had prompted the government to come out with a policy to to limit MPs’ hotel stay to the days only when Parliament was in session.
Moreover, a report published by UN Millennium Developments Goal in 2014 had concluded that India was home to the largest number of poor with one-third of the world’s 1.2 billion extreme poor living here. It also had the highest number of child mortality with 1.4 million children dying before reaching their fifth birthday.
Modi had fought last Lok Sabha elections promising achche din (good days) for common people. The revelation that the government continue to splash crores of rupees towards MPs’ hotel stay when millions in the country don’t even have a roof over their head will not go down well with people at large.