Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's controversial claims over Congress President Sonia Gandhi's foreign trips have been refuted, yet again. Press Trust of India has denied a report that Mr Modi cited on Thursday to buttress his earlier allegation that Rs 1,880 crore of government money had been spent on Mrs Gandhi's visits abroad.
Speaking to a private news channel, the Chief Minister said, "In the month of July, Outlook magazine, Times of India, Indian Express and some other newspapers reported from the news of PTI that Madam Soniaji's three years of foreign tour expenses are Rs 1,880 crore."
He went on to say, "So, I raised the question that it has been three months since July and why isn't the Government of India giving a clarification." The publication of such "wrong reports" should be clarified, he said.
PTI though clarified on Thursday that it had never issued any such story as mentioned by Mr Modi.
This is the second instance when the Chief Minister's claims have been rejected. Mr Modi had, on October 1, attributed the figure of Rs.1,880 crore to a government response to a Right to Information (RTI) applicant from Hisar in Haryana which, he said, had been published in a newspaper on July 12.
This was rejected by the applicant, Ramesh Verma, who went on to say on national television that he had received no such information on Mrs Gandhi's trips in response to his RTI application and that the government had not provided him with any response. However, the information collected by him from the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian missions abroad had given him a figure of Rs.80 lakhs to Rs.85 lakhs, he said.
The Prime Minister's Office had said last week that no government money had been spent on the Congress President's overseas visits or on her medical treatment and described Mr Modi's figure of Rs.1,880 crore as "untrue and misleading".
The Central Information Commissioner had also denied the report on Mrs Gandhi's expenses.