The Assam government will have to foot the bill for over 200 personal guests of former Andaman & Nicobar Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, who took oath as the 30th Governor of the state in the post-Independence era in Guwahati on Tuesday, with officials saying the total expenditure would be anywhere around Rs 25 lakh.
The 200-odd personal guests of Mukhi, a former finance and education minister of the Delhi government, included his son, daughter and daughter-in-law, as also an elder brother, apart from other relatives and friends, a Raj Bhavan official said. The official however dismissed local media reports that the Assam government would have to incur a total expenditure of about Rs 5 crore, and said that while the guests had travelled at their own expense from Delhi and other places, the state government would only take care of the local hospitality and travel.
“It is a fact that about 200 relatives and personal guests, apart from family members of the Governor had arrived here to attend the swearing-in ceremony. But all of them had come on their own and the state government would only foot their bills for local stay and local travel. They were put up at the Raj Bhavan guest house, the Guwahati Circuit House, and a few hotels of the city. Finding accommodation in Guwahati has been difficult in the present week because of the T20 cricket match between Australia and the FIFI U-17 World Cup matches that the city is playing host too. The total expenditure is yet to be worked out. Our guess is that it will be around Rs 25 lakh, and definitely several crores as some people have claimed,” a Raj Bhavan official told The Indian Express.
While the state government also hired a number of vehicles for the local travel of the governor’s guests, the expenditure would be divided among at least three departments – Raj Bhavan, Kamrup (Metro) administration and the General Administration Department (GAD) – the official said.
“Most of the guests have already left. Some had left on Tuesday itself after the swearing-in function was over. A few of them have gone for local sight-seeing to Shillong and Kaziranga,” the official said. This is however not the first time that such a large number of personal guests of a governor had turned up to witness the swearing-in ceremony. Over 200 such personal friends had also come from Rajasthan when SC Mathur was sworn in as Assam governor in July 2008.
Mukhi’s swearing-in function also broke a decades-old tradition in that it was not held in the Raj Bhavan Durbar Hall, but in the 800-capacity International Convention Centre Auditorium of the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra. “There are genuine reasons for it. The Durbar Hall has a capacity of providing seats to only 170 persons. The list of invitees, which includes ministers, MLAs, judges, public leaders, eminent citizens, government officers and members of the media, is much longer. Moreover, it is not the first time. In July 2008, SC Mathur, the 24th governor too was sworn in at the Rabindra Bhavan and not in the Durbar Hall,” the Raj Bhavan official said.