Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar has a problem on his hands. The state's MLAs are unwilling to let go of their "study tours" abroad despite the public outcry that forced the CM to call back one batch of legislators and cancel three other scheduled trips.
According to a source privy to the developments, speaker KG Bopaiah asked the MLAs on Wednesday to listen to the CM. "Many of the MLAs waiting to go abroad have been to Chennai to get their visas. The CM is considering convening a meeting on Thursday to put his foot down," the source added.
The "study tours" at public expense — estimated to cost R8 crore — at a time when the state is reeling under drought has earned the BJP government a severe backlash. On Tuesday, Shettar called back the first batch of 14 MLAs and four officers of the public undertaking committee who left for Dubai and South America on August 30 for a 14-day visit.
"The foreign tour by MLAs has been cancelled," Shettar said in Bellary, indicating the other three tours were put on hold.
Nearly 50 more MLAs — from the BJP, Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) — are on the teams waiting to visit Israel, Egypt and countries in Europe. Some MLAs, however, have decided not to avail of the "study tours".
BJP legislator BC Nagesh said, "I will not go because I don't want to waste public money."
Former CM BS Yeddyurappa had last week slammed the MLAs away on the foreign trip and asked them to return immediately. He had said people of their respective constituencies would teach them a lesson.