A 16-member delegation of elected representatives, including ministers, returned to Mumbai on Tuesday night, after a 14-day trip to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore .
The chairman of the legislative Council, Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar, who also led the delegation, said there was nothing wrong in the study tour and a report on it will be submitted to the legislature in two days.
Agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar (BJP), deputy chairman of council Manikarao Thakre (Congress), Assembly speaker Haribhau Bagde (BJP), their personal assistants, and legislators Sanjay Dutt (Congress), Rahul Narvekar (NCP), Sharad Ranpise (Congress) had gone on the tour.
Food and civil supplies minister Girish Bapat (BJP) returned on May 10, while Neelam Gorhe (Shiv Sena legislator) will be back on Wednesday.
HT, on May 4, had first reported about the tour to three countries.
“We have done nothing wrong by going on the study tour. We signed a memorandum of understanding with Parliament of New South Wales in Australia and visited legislatures of the countries we have been to. A report on the study tour will be submitted in two days,” Naik-Nimbalkar said.
The delegation comprising three presiding officers of the state legislature, two ministers, four legislators and six officials drew flak from various political parties and farmers organizations.
Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to recall two ministers on the tour organized at a time farmers in the state are in distress. Shiv Sena leader and environment minister Ramdas Kadam called it an insensitive act to go on a junket when farmers are facing challenging times.
The tour, which begun on May 2, was organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). The delegates on the tour had to bear 50% cost of the tour, while the remaining was borne by the CPA from the funds allocated by the state government.
The state is believed to have spent about Rs30 lakh on the tour. Amid criticism and consecutive drought, the state legislatures had avoided such tours for nine years. Two ministers, Dutt, Ranpise were accompanied by their wives while Gorhe took her sister along on the tour.