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    CM Shettar cancels 'study tour' of Karnataka MLAs

    By Sreekumar
    Jagadish Shettar
    Bangalore, Sept 4: Following the furore over some Karnataka MLAs and officials going on a 'study tour' to South America when 146 of the state's 176 taluks are facing drought, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has finally cracked the whip.

    "The foreign tour by MLAs has been cancelled. The first batch of MLAs who are currently touring in a foreign country has been asked to return," he told reporters at Bellary. Shettar made it clear that 12 members of the Karnataka Assembly's Estimates Committee, who were scheduled to leave for Europe on Sept 26, will not be allowed to do so.

    Members of the Assembly's Public Undertakings Committee had earlier boarded a flight from here on Aug 29, ostensibly to get a first-hand idea of the civic facilities in Argentina, Chile and Peru. However, the media pointed out that not a single appointment had been fixed for the MLAs or the MLCs.

    That nine of the legislators were accompanied by their wives and one MLA even took his daughter along on the junket also indicated the seriousness they attached to the two-week tour, for which a sum of Rs 6 lakh was to be spent on each MLA.

    The three main parties in Karnataka indulged in a blame game when all this became known. Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) said that the Assembly Speaker KG Bopaiah should not have allowed the study tour in the first place.

    Both the opposition parties conveniently ignored the fact that their own legislators insisted on proceeding with the tour even though Shettar had advised them to call it off in view of the prevailing drought.

    Venkatarao Nadegouda (Sindhanur MLA), HS Prakash (Hassan MLA) and HK Kumaraswamy (Sakleshpur MLA) from the JD(S) are currently in Argentina as are BC Patil (Hirekerur MLA) and Dr MC Sudhakar Reddy (Chintamani MLA) of the Congress.

    Former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa was of the opinion that the MLAs should not have left the state in a time of crisis. Noting that the MLAs are ex-officio chairpersons of the Task Force created at the taluk-level to monitor the drought relief work, the BJP leader rued that their absence will severely impact the work.

    Shettar's belated decision means that the pleasure trip has been aborted midway and the MLAs will have to return to Karnataka.

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