Wednesday 19 February 2020 6:34 AM UTC
Thiruvananthapuram Feb 19: A recent revelation in the Assembly that the government had offered ₹2,000 per plate lunches to delegates of the Lok Kerala Sabha (LKS) caused the Opposition to cry foul on Monday.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran said the extravagance with public funds was shocking. The government had spent ₹1 crore for accommodation and food alone when the State was reeling under a severe financial crisis. The government had contracted a super expensive multi-star hotel to cater to the delegates.
The LKS participants were mostly wealthy people and it had no ordinary non-resident Keralite (NoRKs) as invitee.
The Opposition had boycotted the LKS in January on the ground that the flagship programme of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, aimed at harnessing the wealth and expertise of NoRKs for the State’s development, was a futile spectacle.
It had alleged that the LKS was a white elephant. The cash-strapped government had splurged crores to refurbish the Sankara Narayanan Thampi Hall in the Assembly complex to host the second meeting of the nominated body.
The Opposition had earlier charged that the LKS had not met any of its stated aims. After its inception in 2018, at least two NoRK investors had committed suicide after they sunk their life’s savings into projects hobbled by administrative red tape and high-handedness and corruption of Left party office-bearers.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the government had splurged on the spectacle when the State faced an unprecedented fiscal crisis.
The government had squeezed the payment of bills to government contractors and beneficiaries of welfare schemes. However, the LKS appeared well-funded. He sought an inquiry into the corruption and profligacy.
Following these allegations, Director and Aries Group CEO Sohan Roy said on his Facebook page that he would pay back to the government the loss caused by him.
“This time when I reached the venue of Loka Kerala Sabha as a special guest, I kindly rejected the five star accommodation offered to me by the organisers, just to save money for financially-struggling government.
As the get-together function that took place in the assembly house in the night got delayed, I had my dinner from there itself. I thought the food had been sponsored by some person.
Even otherwise, in Kerala, there are many caterers who can supply food that costs below Rs 500 per plate. If I had known it would cost thousands of rupees, I would have avoided the food.
As I can’t take back what I have eaten, I would like to pay Rs 2500 to the government. If there is no option to take back that money I would pay that amount to the chief minister’s relief fund…”
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