PM Narendra Modi spent Rs 65 billion on 84 foreign trips and advertisements
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hectic travel schedule and his government’s advertising blitz over the past four-and-a-half years have cost Indian taxpayers about 65.9 billion rupees ($920 million).
The prime minister’s 84 trips around the world cost roughly $280 million, while the government spent $640 million on promoting Modi’s flagship projects and achievements, according to new government data.
The money spent on each trip, combined with the cost of maintenance on Air India One and setting up a secure hotline, was provided in a response to a lawmaker’s question in Parliament by VK Singh, the country’s junior foreign minister. The money on advertisements -- some of which bear PM Modi’s image -- was also made in Parliament by Rajyavardhan Rathore, the junior minister for information and broadcasting.
Government spokesman Sitanshu Kar did not respond to three calls to his mobile phone on Friday, while a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, GVL. Narasimha Rao, did not respond to a call and text for comment.
Since taking office, Modi has maintained a punishing pace of world travel, meeting some global leaders such as US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe multiple times in a bid to boost India’s influence in global affairs and secure its strategic interests.
Some of his trips, including an informal summit with President Xi Jinping in the Chinese city of Wuhan, are credited as diplomatic successes. His meeting with China’s leader after a tense stand-off in the Himalayas was seen as ushering in a detente between the world’s two most-populous countries.
Others generated some controversy.
His trip to Japan in 2016 -- which came immediately after Modi eliminated 86 per cent of India’s currency, sending millions into bank queues to exchange cash -- led to accusations by the opposition that he was traveling the world while ordinary Indians were struggling.
In China, he signed a memorandum of understanding to open a yoga college in Yunnan province, and pledged to cooperate with Turkmenistan on both yoga and traditional Indian medicine, according to government statements.
In Oman, a memorandum of understanding was signed pledging ‘cooperation in the field of health.’ In Portugal, Modi’s diplomats promised to cooperate ‘in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes,’ an agreement India also struck with Vietnam and Oman.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)