In November 2012, the PMO hosted a dinner to its allies after the lady from West Bengal walked out of UPA alliance and Mulayam & Mayawati came to the rescue of government.
The prime minister was reaching out to allies and outside supporters as the government faced the prospect of a motion entailing voting on FDI and even a possible threat of No-Confidence Motion. Here is the link to one of the news items if you would like to read more on it: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/pm-to-host-dinner-for-upa-leaders-on-friday-525430.html
After reading the news item, I thought of finding out how much money is being spent by PMO to host such dinners for UPA allies.
So, I filed an RTI application with PMO in the month of March (around 6th March) seeking details of dinners hosted by PMO for UPA allies since they came to power (from 2004 to 2013). Here is the soft copy of the application: http://www.scribd.com/doc/144508928/RTI-PMO-Dinners-for-UPA-Allies
The PMO sent an interim reply around 5th April saying they are working on my application and will send the information soon. Here is the scanned copy of Interim reply: http://www.scribd.com/doc/144518438/Interim-reply-from-PMO
Finally, after 66 days, the PMO replied to my application with the partial details. Here is the scanned copy of reply given by PMO.
Here is what the reply says:
- Around 20 dinners were hosted in last 10 years and 3064 guests were invited
- I was shocked to know that PMO has spent 1 crore 37 lakhs and 21 thousand rupees on these lavish dinners
- If we calculate the cost per guest, it comes to around 4478
- PMO did not provide the list of guests for these dinners citing security reasons. I could not understand why there is a security concern for dinners hosted in the past. Doesn’t make sense.
- The PMO also did not provide details of tenders released to procure food, and other arrangements made. So we do not know whether the procurement was done in a fair manner or not.
- The PMO also failed to provide details of MOM for these dinners as no record are maintained about the discussions. Hence we do not know why most of these dinners were hosted in the first place and what was the outcome of these dinners!
|No of guests||3,064|
|Catering charges||Rs 59,51,629|
|Tent Charges||Rs 56,75,751|
|Flower Arrangement||Rs 6,26,886|
|Total Expenditure||Rs 1,37,21,066|
|Cost per Guest||Rs 4478|
Here is a snapshot of expenditure incurred by PMO for these dinners:
Once I had all the details, I shared the information with media.
Here are the media reports on this issue:
- Times of India : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/PMO-splurged-Rs-1-4cr-on-20-dinners-for-allies/articleshow/20057679.cms?intenttarget=no
- Roznaama Sahara (Urdu) : http://roznamasahara.com/Details.aspx?id=47320&boxid=234641995
- CNN IBN’s Citizen Journalist show : http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/392800/rti-activist-reveals-amount-spent-on-pmos-dinner.html
- CNN IBN’s CJ Page: http://cj.ibnlive.in.com/dinner-hosted-by-pmo-for-upa-allies-from-2004-to-2013-govt-spends-1-crore-37-lakhs-on-lavish-dinners-for-its-allies/6769/
So my questions to the Prime Minister and his team are:
- What was the purpose of having such lavish dinners?
- Where is the austerity when thousands of Indians are living below poverty line?
Its such a shame that the political leaders are enjoying lavish dinners when the entire country is battling with poverty and other issues like inflation and food crisis. I feel that the politicians do not have any right to spend the poor tax-payer’s money on their lavish dinners.
Rest I leave it to the readers to decide!