The controversy over the ‘study tour’ by municipal councillors, their family members and officials has divided the BJP.
While Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon accused the Congress of trying to make “a mountain out of a molehill’’, party councillor Ranjana Shahi said the tour was a holiday at public expense, and contrary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of “na khaunga, na khane dunga’’.
Shahi is the second BJP councillor to criticise the tour. Earlier, Satinder Singh had alleged several irregularities.
In her statement, Shahi said she had been opposed to holidays being undertaken in the guise of study tours by elected representatives as well as the officers at the cost of public exchequer. In this case, not only bills were inflated to adjust expenses of councillors’ family members, they even went to Tirupati Balaji and undertook a luxury holiday to Havelock Island which could not be justified “even in their most stretched explanation of study tour’’.
Shahi said that the travel agency through which bills were inflated was owned by close relatives of one of the councillors. “All these misdeeds not only amount to impropriety but also amount to misuse of public funds. This is against the declared policy of the Prime Minister of the country, na khaunga, na khane dunga,’’ she said.
“That is why the PMO has written to the Administrator of Chandigarh to take appropriate action in this matter,’’ she said, and asked the UT Administrator to take action under law immediately against the officers as well as the councillors for their wrongdoings.
She demanded that the money spent on “the holiday’’ should immediately be returned to the corporation. “Strict action should be taken against the Commissioner as well as all the officers who let this happen and endorsed,’’ Shahi said.
Tandon, on the other hand, said, “The matter surrounding the study tour is very much in public domain and if the Congress is really serious about the probe, they must investigate all previous study tours. The mayor’s move (to order an inquiry) is nothing but character assassination of my party colleagues.”