Rahul Gandhi must inform parliament of the details and purpose of his foreign travel, the ruling BJP said today, raising questions about what it called the Congress leader's frequent "luxurious trips abroad".
"We demand details of his foreign trips. He must explain the purpose of each visit and where the finances of each trip are coming from," BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said, addressing the media.
Rahul Gandhi is currently on a "meditational trip" abroad, according to the Congress. He had travelled outside the country even earlier this month.
"What is the great secrecy that Rahul Gandhi cannot inform the Lok Sabha secretariat? How does he pay for his luxurious trips abroad? As a public representative and a senior Congress leader, he is expected to disclose details rather than keep them shrouded in mystery," Mr Rao said.
The Congress MP had travelled abroad 16 times in the last five years, he added.
Calling Mr Gandhi a "frequent flyer", the BJP spokesperson questioned: "What is the secrecy about his trips abroad? Is he involved in some secret operations that people of the nation and his own party ought to know? Out of these 16 visits, there is no information on nine of them."
Mr Rao remarked that the 49-year-old travelled much more abroad than in his constituency Wayanad in Kerala. "That is the reason that people of Amethi have chosen to send him home and not reelect him," he said.
According to him, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi had written to MPs in July asking them to disclose the details of overseas trips.
"Not revealing the details of his visit means not conforming to norms. MPs are requested to send details of their visits abroad so that MEA and concerned Indian missions can be informed of the same," said Mr Rao.
Rahul Gandhi's latest trip, on the verge of Congress's weeklong protests targeting the government on the economic slump, has drawn comment. The party said he had left for a meditational tour but he had been involved in planning the protests.
"India is a leading center for meditation with a rich heritage. But Rahul Gandhi routinely flies out to odd destinations for 'meditation'. Why doesn't Congress simply make his itinerary public, after all he is a highly protected leader!" - tweeted BJP's IT cell chief Amit Malviya.
Mr Gandhi, who quit as Congress president after the party's disastrous performance in the national election in May, also provoked criticism when he flew abroad at the peak of the campaign for the Maharashtra and Haryana elections.