Delhi government on Friday dismissed reports about the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) scrutinising the foreign trips of ministers and bureaucrats, saying that they have not received any communication from the central audit body. It also sought to drag in the NDA government at the Centre by pointing to the clearance of such trips by the ministries of external affairs and home.
Since the Aam Aadmi Party came to power in Delhi two years back, its ministers, especially deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, have made headlines by their frequent foreign trips — as many as 10 in the past one-and-a-half years. Last September, Sisodia drew flak from the AAP’s political rivals for staying in the cool climes of Finland when Delhi was in the grip of chikungunya and dengue.
While chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was away in the Vatican City in early September, then lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung asked the general administration department to provide details of the foreign trips of ministers and officials. State home minister Satyendra Jain trained his guns at the then L-G, asking derisively whether he also sought details of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign tours.
DNA newspaper reported on Friday that the CAG has written to Delhi finance, general administration and urban development departments, asking details such as purpose of the foreign visits by ministers and bureaucrats and the cost they incurred to the exchequer.
A Delhi government spokesperson, however, denied the report, maintaining that none of the ministers received any communication from the CAG about their foreign trips. “Moreover, all foreign trips of Delhi ministers are preceded by clearances from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Union Home Ministry. So, there is nothing to be investigated,” said the spokesperson.
Government officials said that the CAG auditing is a routine procedure that involves a series of communications between the central auditor and the departments concerned. After the draft report is made, comments are again sought from concerned departments before finalising the report, which is tabled in Parliament.
A CAG spokesperson refused to comment on the media report about the scrutiny of AAP ministers’ foreign tours.