Mumbai: A day after RTI documents pointed to an alleged ‘Tea scam’ in Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s Office (CMO), Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam demanded an internal inquiry on the entire issue.
In a letter to Fadnavis on Thursday, Nirupam plugged holes into the CMO’s denial to the RTI response.
“The response of the CMO is full of loopholes and lies. They claim that this is the overall expense that has been spent on bouquets, shawls, coconuts which were given during felicitations, whereas the RTI was specifically for tea and snacks. So why is the CMO clubbing all other expenses now?” he asked.
Referring to the comments by former Union Minister and four-time Chief Minister Sharad Pawar, saying he was never aware that such huge expenses could be incurred on serving tea, Nirupam said that even other ex-CMs have said that the tea and snacks expenses of the CMO have always been in lakhs.
“Then how did the expenses suddenly rise to Rs 3.4 crore in 2017-18 from Rs 57, 99,150 in 2015-16? The CMO statement lacks authenticity and seems a desperate attempt just to cover up the truth because the expense has increased by 577 per cent which equals to more than 18,500 cups of tea consumed every single day,” he said.
Dismissing the CMO’s reply, Nirupam asked Fadnavis to provide a breakdown of the number of cups of tea served at various other locations like Sahyadri Guest House, Hyderabad House, Varsha Bungalow, Nagpur Office.
“If there is transparency and if the CMO is saying that we are making misleading claims, then give us a break-up if there’s nothing to hide,” he said.
On Wednesday, Nirupam brewed up a storm by furnishing RTI documents showing that in the past three years, the tea consumption in the CMO has increased by a staggering 577 per cent.