A study tour to Madame Tussauds

Junket racket


Those on the list of usual suspects are our legislators: Assembly Speaker Jagadish Shettar and Council Chairman Veeranna Mathikatti and eight MLAs and MLCs. The ten politicians, who comprise the Legislature Library Committee, will fly out on Friday on a 15-day ‘study’ tour of Europe and the United States. The declared purpose is to study libraries in various countries across Europe and in the US.

They will not only fly out with bags and baggages. In tow will be their family members and three officials. On their itinerary are such countries as the United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, France and the US. According to records available with Deccan Herald, Shilpa Shettar, Prashant Shettar (wife and son of Jagadish Shettar), Shakunthala Veeranna Mathikatti and Vijay Mathikatti (wife and son of Veeranna Mathikatti) are among the family members going on the tour.

Other members of the Committee are: M Narayana Swamy, K Lakshminarayana, S V Ramachandra, N A Harris, H S Prakash (all MLAs), ‘Mukhyamantri’ Chandru, Chandrashekar B Kambar and Srinath (all MLCs).

The expenses of the members will be borne by the State Legislature. As per the rule book, only members of Legislature committees are permitted to go on official study tours. Each of these members are entitled $350 per day for meeting their expenses during the tour. This is over and above the cost of air passage and local travel.

The duration of the tour should be not more than 15 days. Even more interesting is the tour itinerary.

The tours include everything but any meeting on acquiring knowledge on modernising libraries. The Library Committee has not listed any library or fixed any official meeting during its fortnight visit to Rome, Paris, London, Washington and New York in the tour programme. Instead, sightseeing and excursion are on the agenda.

Here is a typical day’s (August 10) programme in Venice: Drive to Venice by touring coach; Indian menu lunch; Orientation walking tour of Venice; Visit a Venetian glass factory; Visit St. Mark’s Cathedral; Indian menu dinner.

When contacted, Speaker Jagadish Shettar said there was nothing wrong or illegal about taking family members during the tour as all their expenses will be borne by the family and not the Legislature. On some occasions, the family members will share the facilities like lodging provided to the touring members. It will in no way burden the State exchequer, he added.

Asked  whether rules allowed the family members to accompany the legisaltors on an official study tour, he said: “It has been a precedent for a long to take family members. I don’t think it is unlawful,” he defended.

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