The Communist Party of India-Marxist on Friday raised in the Lok Sabha the issue of Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed staying in a five-star hotel for six months and questioned who would foot the bill of Rs 37 lakh.
Without naming Ahmed, CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharia said "one MoS Tourism" had stayed in the luxury hotel even though the government had months back announced austerity measures because of which even meetings of parliamentary committees were not allowed to be held outside Delhi.
Amid chants of "shame, shame" by some members in the opposition benches, Acharia said in the Zero Hour that he was raising the issue as it concerned the tax payer's money.
He noted that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had asked External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and MoS External Affairs Shashi Tharoor to leave five-star hotels two months ago after he found that they were staying there.
While they left the hotels, "one MoS Tourism continued to stay in five-star hotel," the CPI-M leader in the Lok Sabha said, obviously referring to Ahmed, who belongs to the Trinamool Congress.
He questioned how the minister was allowed to do so.
Alleging that the government's austerity rules had been violated, Acharia said, "I would like to know who will foot the bill. Is the tourism ministry going to foot the bill?"
Some Congress members objected to mention of the minister.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanswamy also took exception, saying prior notice should have been given if a reference was to be made against a minister.
Acharia responded by saying that he had not named the minister although he had given notice for raising the issue concerning austerity measures.
P C Chako, who was in the Chair, said specific references to the minister should be removed.After being found to be staying at the hotel, Ahmed left it on Wednesday with an embarrassed party asking him to pay the costs incurred.