A similar incident had occurred in September last year when MLAs of the then BJP government defied the chief minister, Jagadish Shettar, to undertake a 'study tour' of various countries in Latin America. [Read here]
How many MLAs?: 30
How many days? : 16
How much will the trip cost the state exchequer? : Rs 2.25 crore (Rs 7.5 Lakh per member)
How many countries?: The MLA-team will cover three Latin American countries, Argentina, Brazil and Peru.
Why the trip?
Apparently, the leaders want to understand the flora and fauna of the Latin American countries, study the ecology and tourism activities. reportedly, they will study the waterfalls in Brazils and see if it is possible to replicate the same in Karnataka. The team will also study the sporting activities in Brazil.
What will they do in Latin America?
The MLAs will stay in deluxe hotels and will have to bear the cost of English speaking tour guides in each of the cities. They will go on a boat tour of Buanabara Bay and visit Sugar Loaf mountains. The team also visit Tijuca rain forest, Amazon jungle tour, Tango show in Buenos Aires and a desert safari in Dubai on the way back.
Why the trip isn't wrong: Here is what the MLAs said:
"We will visit the Amazon forest and study the waterfalls there to see how it can be replicated in Karnataka as we have thick forests here. We will also visit Brazil to see the sporting activity there," said Congress MLA Mallikaiah V Guttedar.
"I don't think its wrong. We don't get to travel by business class. 300 legislators represent six crore population of Karnataka. Its generally the first and second time legislators who go on these junkets. Last time I went to Washington and London, it gave me an insight into many things. Our state budget is Rs 1.21 lakh crore and in this a couple of lakhs for junket will not matter," said MLA NA Haris.
"It has to be a combination of both study and entertainment", said state minister Dinesh Gundu Rao.
And what did the chief minister say?
"It is the Legislature Committee that decides (on such matters). They (MLAs) go every year," Siddaramaiah said. "It is a routine thing. Don't blow it out of the proportion," the CM said.