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‘Extravagant’ legislators do it again

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: It seems old habits die hard for the Meghalaya MLAs specially when it concerns foreign tours – a favourite pastime for the ministers and legislators mostly from the ruling Congress.

This week when Assembly Speaker AT Mondal and three other MLAs undertake an official tour to London, a rank outsider – Manmohan Sharma – would be accompanying the delegation.

Sharma, who is neither an employee of the Assembly nor of the State Government, is all set to enjoy the foreign jaunt along with the four-member State team at the expenses of the Meghalaya Assembly, sources informed.

The source confirmed that Sharma is the executive secretary of the Indian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, but has no connection with the Meghalaya Government. Incidentally, the IAPPD is only an NGO not even an official government body.

Earlier too, Sharma had undertaken foreign tours with former Speaker Charles Pyngrope and other MLAs. Even then there was criticism but the then Speaker had defended Sharma’s presence in the visiting team. Sharma had also accompanied a team of MLAs when they visited different foreign countries including Vietnam and Thailand.

The External Affairs Ministry has already given political clearance to the Speaker, MLAs and officials, besides Sharma, for the London trip.

“All necessary expenditure for the visit will be borne by the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Secretariat,” an official communication from the Assembly to the Centre said in order to get the clearance, Ministry sources said.

Mondal and the MLAs will be attending the G8/G20 Global Parliamentarians’ conference on population and development at the House of Parliament at London this week.

Besides Mondal, Congress Chief Whip Ronnie V Lyngdoh, former Speaker and MLA Martin M Danggo, and UDP working president Paul Lyngdoh are travelling to London. Officials accompanying the MLA team include Assembly officials Andrew Simons and A Warlarpih.

Mondal had, earlier, claimed that he will be accompanied by a limited number of MLAs and no minister will be part of the delegation. He had also asserted that the number of officials accompanying the delegation will be kept at the bare minimum.

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