The media hounding them have found out that they have no official engagements and are not meeting up with any officials on the presumed 'study tour'. The tour will cost the exchequer Rs 6 lakh per legislator and it has been reported that they will also undertake a two-day stay in West Asia before heading home. According to the MLAs, the expense for their spouses are being funded from their own pockets.
There are also reports that the MLAs trip was flagged off in spite of Karnataka CM Jagadish Shettar expressing his disagreement on the same. The decision was slammed by people across party lines and others in the state. In a last-ditch face-saving effort, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress have instructed their MLAs to opt out of the tour.
The resistance came from those within the BJP, with former CM BS Yeddyurappa slamming the move and commenting, "Where's the need for a foreign trip now? Farmers are in dire straits because of the prevailing drought. The MLAs are ex-officio chairpersons of the Task Force created at the taluka-level to monitor the drought relief work. Their absence will severely impact drought-relief work."
The trip is being undertaken by the MLAs through five different panels constituted by the government. The first batch of 12 MLAs led by Assembly Speaker KG Bopaiah left Bangalore on Thursday for South America on a 15 day visit. Among the legislators carrying out the pleasure-cum-study trip are -
- Sindhanur MLA Venkatarao Nadegouda
- Aurad MLA Prabhu Chavan
- Mayakonda MLA Basavaraj Naik
- Sindgi MLA Ramesh B Bhusanoor
- Mohan M Limbikai
- Sakleshpur MLA HK Kumaraswamy
- Dr MC Sudhakar Reddy
- Chandrakanth Bellad
- Hirekerur MLA BC Patil from the Public Undertakings Committee
- Sureshgouda Patil from the Estimates Committee
- Pratapgouda Patil from the Women and Child Welfare Committee.
Such study tours to foreign countries are part of routine plans for the MLAs every year with the effort being criticised each year and branded as wasteful expenditure. The only exception of the same being in 2009 when the govt had proposed sending farmers on tours to China and Israel to study the agricultural practices in these countries.
With the BJP facing some serious flak for the MLAs on holiday-mode and the helpless CM not capable to discipline them, will the party be ready to refuse tickets to the MLAs in the coming elections remains to be seen. The apathy of the MLAs for whom the situation in the state is of little consequence and more importance is given on enjoyment when their won state is reeling under drought-like situations will give the public some serious food for thought.