Current Affairs

Govt spends 25 lakhs of tax-payers on BJP exhibition

Goa’s tax payers had to shell out Rs 25 lakhs for an exhibition organized by the Bharatiya Janata Party at Madurai in Tamil Nadu. This has been revealed in the information obtained by Adv. Aires Rodrigues from the Department of Information and Publicity under the Right to Information Act.

The documents obtained reveal that on 20th April at 6.15 pm a two paged note was faxed to the Director of Information from the office of the Principal Secretary B.Vijayan regarding the two day BJP exhibition “Kamal Sangamam” which was being held at Madurai on April 28th and 29th.

The note had a remark “Approved” signed by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar at the bottom of the first page. Interestingly it is not known from where that two paged note reached the Chief Minister. That note does not indicate the address of the sender and neither was the unsigned note addressed to anyone.  

On receipt of the two paged note, the Director of Information and Publicity Menino Peres, the same evening moved a proposal suggesting that due to time constraints, a Public Relations agency may be engaged by the government for the job of participating at the BJP exhibition in Madurai.

Curiously, the Director of Information in his note, remained silent on the fact that it was a BJP organized exhibition and in his notings projects the event as a State level mega conference on good governance. Without giving any details, the note stated that Goa’s Director of Planning  Anand Sherkhane had agreed to prepare the concept of the Goa stall for that BJP exhibition at Madurai. The proposal of the Director of Information, though marked for the approval of Information Secretary and Chief Minister was never sent to them.

Meanwhile, three days later, the Director of Information by a letter dated April 23rd invited quotations that were to be submitted by April 25th by the four empanelled event management agencies on setting up a Goa stall at the BJP exhibition scheduled at Madurai on April 28th and April 29th. Interestingly amongst the four agencies invited to put up the Goa stall at the BJP exhibition was Goa Communication system owned by Congress leader Milan Burman.

The documents further reveal that out of the four only three agencies responded with Sean AdEvent quoting Rs 25 lakhs while Magnum Intergrafiks quoted Rs 28 lakhs and Milan Burman’s Goa Communication system quote was the highest at Rs. 28.5 lakhs. The documents reveal that on April 26th with just 48 hours to go for the BJP exhibition at Madurai, the Director of Information proposed in his note that as there was no time left, the bid by Sean AdEvent of Rs 25 lakhs be accepted. The note however did not explain how Sean AdEvent proposed to prepare the material for the Goa stall and transport it 1000 kms away to be set up at the BJP exhibition at Madurai, in less than 48 hours.

On receipt of this note the Information Secretary T. Balakrishna in his noting expressed apprehension that proper tendering process should have been followed considering that the value of the quotation was Rs 25 lakhs. He however observed that in view of the urgency expressed by the Director of Information, the proposal be considered provided the finance department concurs. On 27th April, the eve of the Madurai exhibition, the file was sent to the Chief Minister for his approval which was seen by Manohar Parrikar only on 13th May after the 25 lakhs expenditure on the BJP exhibition was already incurred. The notings also reveal that the finance department moved a note on 21st May for ex post facto approval for those 25 lakhs spent, which was approved by the Chief Minister on 23rd May.    

Adv. Aires Rodrigues alleges that the Rs.25 lakhs spent by the Goa Government was a clear case of misappropriation of public funds at the behest of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Adv. Rodrigues has stated that on April 20th the Chief Minister could not have marked the proposal to participate in the BJP exhibition, as “Approved” without it being examined by the concerned department followed by administrative and financial approval which was required as per the General financial rules.

Asserting that Government funds could not be used to fund or participate in political party events, Adv. Rodrigues has stated that from the perusal of the records it was evident that it was an blatant misuse of tax payer’s money.

Stating that the expenditure of Rs 25 lakhs amounted to sheer wastage of public money and gross misuse of power, Adv. Rodrigues has stated that a case of an act of malafide maladministration would be filed against Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar before the Lokayukta as soon as it is set up.

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