Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is reeling under financial burden after the devastating floods last year. Even government employees were forced to give their one month salary to augment the government’s fund to get the state on its feet.
However, these financial problems have not desisted the Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, from claiming travel allowance from the treasury to have a personal trip to Dubai and the United States.
According to a petition submitted to the High Court of Kerala, a resident of Marthandom, D. Francis, has accused the Chief Minister of using government money to travel by air for personal use. The plea requests vigilance investigation into the matter and asked the authorities to seek reimbursement of the money from Pinarayi.
According to the plea, the Chief Minister had left for Dubai and the United States after he was invited by certain groups from those countries. Those were not official visits and he did not attend the events in the capacity of the Chief Minister. Flight tickets cost to the tune of Rs. 5,76,102 for the journey and it was paid for by the public money.
Pinarayi Vijayan undertook the Dubai trip took place from 21 to 24 December, 2016 to take part in a private school inauguration and to take part in programs conducted by some expat organizations.
The petition mentions that an amount of Rs. 93,295 was taken by the Chief Minister from the treasury to pay for the flight ticket. It is not clear who had booked the ticket in advance and the Chief Minister is responsible to disclose the details of it.
Next the Chief Minister went to the United States to take part in programs organized by the Federation of Kerala Associations in North America (FOKANA). This trip was from 5 to 16 July, 2018. An amount of Rs. 3,82,807 was paid for by public money. The plea states that there is no evidence that FOKANA has paid for the tickets. Besides, Pinarayi Vijayan had kept Rs. 1 lakh for his expenditures in the US.
The plea further says that by claiming money from the treasury, the Chief Minister has made unlawful financial gains and has thus misused his official position and in violation of government protocols.
The petitioner has also pointed that he had given complaint to the Vigilance department but no action was taken into the matter. The petitioner has also asked the High Court to direct the Vigilance department to initiate investigation.