BJP circulates letter regarding Rahul's 'secret' trips abroad
The BJP on Thursday dropped a bombshell on former Congress President Rahul Gandhi targeting Gandhi's numerous foreign visits without informing the government, as is required.
In a scathing attack on the Congress Member of Parliament (MP), BJP MP G.V.L. Narasimha Rao questioned the "secrecy" surrounding Gandhi's foreign visits.
"Why was it not revealed? Was he involved in some secret operation?," he asked.
Rao was referring to Gandhi's recent overseas trip for meditation, as claimed by the Congress party.
"What is the great secrecy that Rahul Gandhi cannot inform the Lok Sabha secretariat?" Rao added.
Accusing the Congress leader of brazening breaking rules, Rao cited a letter written by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister on July 3 that requires MPs to inform about their foreign visits.
As expected, this provoked a political row with the Congress crying foul.
A Congress leader who refused to be named told IANS: "Rahul Gandhi is an SPG (Special Protection Group) protectee. How can you expect him to disclose his travel details? Why should he? And in any personal visit, MPs are not required to inform the government."
Earlier too, when reports surfaced about amending rules that require SPG personnel to accompany SPG-protected persons, which includes Rahul Gandhi, the Congress had alleged it is a ploy to keep a watch on the Congress leader.
The letter, which Rao cited, is written by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi to all MPs stipulating that they advise in advance about their travel plans abroad.
"In addition, I request you to keep us informed about your foreign trips... Send us your tour programme indicating the dates and places of your visit and your addresses at various places", the letter said.
The BJP on Thursday circulated an Upper House bulletin suggesting that this is not a new rule but a reiteration of an existing one.
A Rajya Sabha bulletin, dated July 11, 2017, clearly states: "Members are requested to send information of their visit abroad, stating the purpose, to the Secretary-General at least 3 weeks in advance so that the Ministry of External Affairs and the concerned Indian Mission/Post can be informed for the same".
The letter adds that this is also "applicable to Members travelling abroad in their personal capacity."
Gandhi is a member of the Lower House. IANS