The Congress on Thursday launched a fresh offensive on social activist Anna Hazare’s team, following media reports that Kiran Bedi, a key team member, had overcharged some institutions by inflating air travel bills.
Bedi, the country’s first woman Indian Police Service officer, however, denied the allegation, saying the organisations that invited her “voluntarily” paid her for business class tickets, but she travelled economy class to save money for her NGO, India Vision Foundation.
The Congress, however, refused to accept her version. “This is a very serious allegation and Kiran Bedi should come clean on this,” said party general secretary Digvijaya Singh.The Congress attack followed a news story in The Indian Express, which reported that on at least 12 occasions between May 2007 and September this year, Bedi used the President’s Gallantry Medal awarded to her in 1979 to get 75% discounts on Air India tickets.
However, she submitted inflated bills to her hosts to claim reimbursement for business class air fare.
“Business class travel is part of the invitation from the event organisers and corporates who ask me to speak. Travelling economy class is a choice despite my entitlement to ensure that savings remain with the NGO,” she said.
Her colleague Arvind Kejriwal said he did not believe the allegations against Bedi. “If the NGOs that called Kiranji have any problem, they can lodge an FIR. Only a police probe can tell whether the bills were genuine or otherwise,” he said.