Express News Service : Ahmedabad, Wed Oct 23 2013, 04:35 hrs
The Gujarat government reportedly spent Rs 11.14 crore on ferrying people in buses to the Sadbhavana fast venues in 2011 and spent Rs 28,000 on buying skull caps for the Navsari edition of Sadbhavana, according to Act Now for Harmony And Democracy (ANHAD), an NGO, and other social activists at a press conference here on Wednesday. WIth the data acquired under the Right to Information Act (RTI), Anhad launched, ‘kachcha chittha’ a serial “expose on Chief Minister Narendra Modi“.Dev Desai, Gujarat co-ordinator of ANHAD, said, “I had filed RTI for other districts as well but only got information for Navsari. If he is spending 28,000 on only skull caps for one programme, wonder how much have been spent on caps alon.” Another volunteer, Hemant Shah, a professor of economics at the HK Arts college in Ahmedabad said, “Modi tried to justify diversion of huge amount of funds from Central schemes by citing a general circular that suggested promotion of communal harmony in states. Neither the 2012-13 budget nor 2013-14 had any mention of Sadbhavna Upvas or expenditure done on it even though it was launched a year back on September 17, 2011. Further, in the supplementary statement presented in the Assembly on February 21, 2012, it was referred to as ‘New Service’. The volunteers claimed they had collected this information “partly through confidential sources and partly under RTI”.

Desai said, “The information available with us is for expenditure on buses that were used to bring people to Modi’s Sadbhavna Upvas for 24 out of 34 programmes across the state. Due to the non-availability of supportive documents, we do not have details of other expenses, including food, gifts and CM‘s travel by helicopters. Thus, if total cost is calculated, it will be a mind-boggling misuse of public funds for the whims of one person.”

Gujarat government spokesperson and finance minister Nitin Patel, when contacted, said, “They are our rivals. They will make any sort of allegations. It is totally baseless.” He further said, “If a neutral person makes allegations then we may consider. But this allegation is coming from a rival.


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