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MPs flying Business Class; Burning Taxpayers Money

 MPs flying Business Class; Burning Taxpayers Money; Left Politicians The Top Spenders 

Exclusive details under the Right To Information (RTI) Act into air travels by the MPs for official purposes has revealed that most of them prefer to fly business or first class at the cost of public exchequer.

Surprisingly, it’s the parliamentarians from the Left parties who have spent the most.

RTI reveals that the total expenditure of Travel Allowance (TA) and Dearness Allowance(DA) of all the Members of the Lok Sabha in one year from April 2016 to March 2017 is Rs 95,70,01,830. While the total expenditure of all Rajya Sabha members in one year from April 2016 to March 2017 is Rs 35,89,31,862. This huge cost is due to most members travelling first class or business class. The members are also entitled to claim one fourth of the airfare as DA.

As per the RTI details, most of the members of the Rajya Sabha have claimed about Rs 10 lakhs in the form of TA/DA in one year from April 2016 to March 2017. Highest spender happens to be CPI(M) MP from West Bengal Ritabrata Banerjee who has claimed a whopping Rs 69,24,335 which comes to almost Rs 6 lakhs a month.

The MP made a clean close to Rs 14 lakhs as dearness allowance. Interestingly, the MP is under suspension from the party for his lavish lifestyle. CPI(M) had suspended Ritabrata Banerjee for three months in June after he posted pictures on social media sporting a Mont Blanc and Apple smartwatch. The party had found him guilty of deviating from party’s ideology which encourages austerity.

The second highest spender also happens to be a Communist leader. CPI leader D Raja claimed Rs 65,04,880 during last financial year for his air travels for official purposes.

The Left leader spent up to Rs 65,841 from Delhi to Chennai air travel and after adding 1/4 additional amount as DA, he claimed Rs 82,301 for this travel.

Another West Bengal MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy of AITC claimed Rs 61,72,271. He spent Rs 56,136 for travelling from Kolkata to Delhi and after adding 1/4th additional amount, he claimed Rs 70,170 for the trip.

The list of top spenders include veteran Congress leader Oscar Fernandes, Tiruchi Siwa of the DMK, CP Narayanan, CPI(M) MP from Kerala, and P Bhattacharya of the Congress.

JD(U) MP from Bihar Anil Kumar Sahani is 10th in the list of top Rajya Sabha spenders. The MP is an accused in the LTC scam. The CBI had alleged that MP in collusion with other persons, used forged e-tickets and fake boarding passes and claimed to the tune of Rs 23.71 lakh as travel and dearness allowance reimbursement without undertaking the actual journey, Sahani had been claiming that he had fallen victim to a racket.

The Lok Sabha secretariat has provided air travel details of individual MPs for the period between 1st July 2016 to 31st December 2016 only under RTI. Most of the members in the Lok Sabha spent about Rs 2 lakh to Rs 7 lakh on air travel in six months. At the same time, some members has spent more than Rs 57 lakh in 6 months, which is about Rs 10 lakh  per month.

The top two spenders happen to be from the Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK. Party MP Dr K Gopal has claimed Rs 57,54,307 as air fare and DA for this period while his colleague P Kumar has claimed Rs 44,29,901. BJP MP from Andaman and Nicobar Islands Bishnu Pada Ray who has claimed Rs 41,06,684 is third in the list of top spenders which includes CPI(M) MPs from Kerala Dr Anirudhan Sampath and PK Sreemathy as well. Another Kerala MP KC Venugopal of the INC and BJP MP Hari Manjhi from Bihar also figure among the top ten.

RTI activist-advocate Dinesh Chadha while divulging the details to the Media said, “As per The Salary Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act 1954, the members are entitled for air fare and an additional amount equal to 1/4 of air fare as DA, nowhere it is mentioned that members are entitled for fare of business class or any other special class”.

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