In a dramatic twist to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's attack on Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her travel expenses, a Vadodara-based Right to Information (RTI) activist, Trupti Shah, has now come out and said that the Modi government has still not responded to her application seeking details of expenses on Mr Modi's travels to attend several conferences in 2007.
She has sent a letter to the Gujarat Chief Minister saying information about his and his Cabinet colleagues' travel-related expenses during 'women empowerment sammelans
(seminar)' had not been provided till date.
"I had asked under the RTI Act for the expenses of the Women's Empowerment Seminar that in the name of women empowerment, why are they having this seminar? But the Chief Minister's office has not replied to any of my queries regarding the expenses," she told NDTV today.
Ms Shah alleged she was denied the information even after repeated reminders. "Chief Minister Modi travelled to 27 places by helicopter but there is no mention of this in the government expenses," she said.
The letter comes in the wake of Mr Modi seeking answers from the Prime Minister's Office regarding Congress president Sonia Gandhi's trips abroad which, he alleged, have cost the exchequer Rs 1880 crore.
Ms Shah said the state's General Administrative Department (GAD), in a letter dated November 1, 2007, provided the list of 27 places visited by Mr Modi from March 10, 2007 to September 20, 2007.
But regarding the travelling expenses, the letter stated "the office of the Chief Minister did not mention the travelling expenses and so the CM's travelling expenses may be considered nil."
This, the activist alleged, is "ridiculous" and "unbelievable" because Mr Modi had travelled to most of the 27 places by helicopter.
Ms Shah then shot off a letter on November 20, 2007 seeking details about the names of agencies that bore the expenditure. When her letter didn't elicit a response from the GAD, she sent a reminder on January 18, 2008 and again on April 17, 2008 but she did not get any reply, she alleged.
After failing to get the required information, Ms Shah filed a complaint under the RTI Act before the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Gujarat.
In the last hearing on September 26, 2012, the CIC directed the GAD to hand over the relevant information to Shah before the next hearing in October. The officer concerned said the information was not available though they have requested the CMO and other ministers to provide it, Ms Shah said.
(With PTI inputs