Expenses of PM's domestic visits are met out of the budget of Ministry of Defence. However, the ministry hadn’t revised the prices of air travel since 1999
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been relentlessly travelling across the nation in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
PM Modi has made 27 trips in 42 days since January 1, covering as many as 18 states and Union Territories, Scroll has reported.
The online publication has pointed out that on many of his trips, Modi has combined official work with campaign meetings of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). For instance, he inaugurated the Indian Science Congress in Jalandhar on January 3. Hours later, he addressed a public meeting organized by the Punjab BJP unit in Gurdaspur.
Another example could be Modi visiting Baripada in Odisha on January 5, where he attended both party events and official meetings on the same day.
Although this is an effective way in which the PM can save time considering his extremely tight schedule, it however poses the question whether these dual trips are making the lines on account books a bit blurry.
To get clarity on the issue, the publication reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking details on how the expenses of these travels are split between the government and the party. The PMO hasn’t responded yet.
The Prime Minister’s Office maintains a public record of both his international and domestic trips, it spells out expenditure details only for his international trips. Neither the information regarding expenditure on his domestic travel is available nor the official protocol governing it.
The publication pointed out that this, however, was not the case with former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who never overlapped official tours with unofficial ones.
Besides, Singh spent 368 days travelling during his first term and 284 days in his second term, as opposed to PM Modi, who has spent 565 days – nearly one-third of his term – in travelling.
In response to questions on official tours in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said an expenditure of over Rs 2,021 crore was incurred on chartered flights, maintenance of aircraft and hotline facilities during PM Modi's visits to foreign countries since June 2014.
In fact, in 2017, Hindustan Times has reported that the PMO has paid around Rs 89 lakh to the Indian Air Force for flying Modi on 128 “non-official” domestic trips since he took office, an expense that was lower than what it would have been had the PM used commercial providers.
The expenses on domestic visits of PM are met out of the budget of Ministry of Defence. However, the report pointed out that Defence Ministry hadn’t revised the prices of air travel since 1999.The Election Code of India suggests that the ministers, including the Prime Minister, must reimburse the government if its machinery is used for the purpose of electioneering.