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Madhya Pradesh CM spent Rs 3 crore on five-day US trip: RTI reply

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New Delhi: An eight-member delegation led by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spent close to Rs.3 crore ($465,000/$58,000 per head) on a five-day US trip in February, which included giving expensive gifts to investors, the reply to an RTI query has revealed.

320px-Shivraj_Singh_ChauhanThe reply, received from the Madhya Pradesh Trade and Investment Facilitation Corporation Limited by whistle blower Ajay Dubey in July, revealed that on its visit to the US to meet American business leaders and potential investors, the delegation spent Rs.198,421 on gifts.

It also mentioned that 10 woollen shawls worth Rs.119,990 (Rs.11,999 each) were gifted to the guests, apart from ties and silver idols worth Rs.78,431. The visit was from January 31 to February 4 on the invitation of the US-India Business Council to meet business community leaders and investors.

The RTI reply also revealed that the expenditure for hotel rooms and air travel was Rs.30 lakh ($46,000) each ($5,750 per head), while Rs.25 lakh was spent on taxi rides, Rs.6 lakh went for daily perks and Rs.1.30 crore in rental for the ‘Friends of MP Conclave’ venue. Another Rs.75 lakh was spent on other promotional and miscellaneous charges. The total expenditure was Rs.2.96 crore over five days.

Among the others who accompanied the chief minister were Yashodhara Raje Scindia, the minister for commerce, industry and employment, Mohammed Suleman, principal secretary, department of commerce, industry & employment; S.K. Mishra, principal secretary to the chief minister; Vivek Aggarwal, secretary to the chief minister; Anupam Rajan, MD, of the MP Laghu Udyog Nigam Ltd. (MP Small Scale Industries Corporation); Manish Singh, MD, Madhya Pradesh Audyogik Kendra Vikas Nigam (Indore) Limited; and Devhuti Bakshi of Ernst & Young.

“The chief minister was planning another foreign tour to Sweden recently, but this was cancelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To spend almost Rs.3 crore on a five-day tour to the US is huge. It is a lot of money for a state like Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, making a foreign tour to meet potential investors when Vyapam scam was at its peak is not acceptable,” Dubey said.

Madhya Pradesh has been mired in the Vyapam scam for years but the irregularities eventually came to light when 20 people were arrested in 2013 for impersonating candidates appearing for the 2009 medical entrance examination.

Forty-five people associated with the Vyapam scam have died – mostly unnaturally or under mysterious circumstances.

The CBI has already registered 67 FIRs and launched 12 preliminary inquiries into the Vyapam scam.

(IANS)

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BJP Hopeful of Getting its “First Chief Minister” in Jammu and Kashmir

Meanwhile, the BJP which shared power in the state with the PDP for three years from 2015 to 2018, did not get the top post

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BJP, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir has seen several Chief Ministers from Congress, National Conference and the People's Democratic Party (PDP). Flickr

The BJP is hopeful of getting its “first Chief Minister” in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 from the state two months ago, and the planned delimitation of the Assembly constituencies.

In an interview to IANS, Jammu and Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Ravinder Raina said, “Jammu and Kashmir is a unit. And as President of BJP here, I am confident that we will have a BJP Chief Minister in Jammu and Kashmir very soon.”

Jammu and Kashmir has seen several Chief Ministers from Congress, National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Meanwhile, the BJP which shared power in the state with the PDP for three years from 2015 to 2018, did not get the top post and had to accept the post of Deputy Chief Minister.

BJP, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir
In an interview to IANS, Jammu and Kashmir Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Ravinder Raina said, Jammu and Kashmir is a unit. Flickr

When asked about the planned delimitation of constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, Raina said, “The Election Commission will take a final call on the delimitation of the Assembly constituencies here.”

Raina said the poll panel will constitute a commission, which will be headed by either a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge.

The BJP leader pointed out that the commission which will be constituted for the delimitation process will follow all the standard prodecures.

The government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution from Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 and also bifurcated the state into two union territories.

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Following the revocation of Article 370, the government has enforced a massive clampdown on communication and internet services in the state and deployed heavy security presence.

To a question over the clampdown for 60 days in the state, the state BJP chief said, “Soon after the abrogation of Article 370 the mobile connectivity and internet facility was suspended here.

“And now you are witnessing that the mobile connectivity and Wi-fi services are given a free hand and people are using those facilities here,” Raina said pointing towards the Wi-fi hotspots and connections provided to the citizens in Jammu.

Pointing towards the Kashmir valley, where only landlines connections and BSNL mobile networks are operating, he said, “In Kashmir valley too, the communication systems whether it is landline connections or BSNL mobile numbers are being operated and are given access.”

BJP, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir
And as President of BJP here, I am confident that we will have a BJP Chief Minister in Jammu and Kashmir very soon. Pixabay

“But there are still apprehensions that Pakistani agents may use the internet facilities to defame and to create mess and try to instigate the youth of the country,” he said on the internet suspension in Srinagar and other districts in the Kashmir valley.

Raina further said that Pakistani elements can instigate the youth and spread venom in the society and that is why preventive measures have been taken. “But soon you shall find all internet facilities will be opened and will be given free access,” he said.

India has on several occasions accused Pakistan of sponsoring terror and allowing its land to be used for terror activities. In recent days, the Indian Army and security forces have foiled terrorists’ attempts to enter Indian territory from the Pakistan side.

On India’s semi-high speed and feature-rich Vande Bharat Express arriving in Jammu from Delhi, he said, “We are thankful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for providing the best train that is Vande Bharat Express to Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of Article 370.

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He said “Vande Bharat Express will provide all sorts of relief to passengers that we have seen at the overcrowded railway stations of Jammu Tawi, Katra and Udhampur. It is a big gift for the people of Kashmir,” Raina added. (IANS)