Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is austere enough to keep away from ‘big fat’ Indian weddings. But even his austerity could not stop him from taking a helicopter ride from Belagavi to cabinet colleague Ramesh Jarkhiholi’s residence, costing Rs 6 lakh, to wish the minister’s newly-wed son and his bride.
On Monday, the CM had, citing the lavish expenses, reportedly boycotted the wedding of Jarkiholi’s son, and even instructed his cabinet colleagues to not attend the wedding. However, on Tuesday, Siddaramaiah along with home minister Parameshwara, KJ George, chief whip Ashok Pattan and MLC HM Revanna flew to Gokak from Belagavi and greeted the Jarkiholi family.
Returning from Gokak, CM and other leaders landed at the newly constructed helipad on the premises of Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore Mirror reported.
Sources in the state government revealed that the chopper arrangement was made by the Department of Personnel and Administration Reforms (DPAR). Since the visit was purely private in nature, questions have been raised about who will bear the bill of the chopper service
According to government sources, DPAR arranges for choppers from private companies for the CM’s official tour programmes and pays them on monthly basis and it is speculated that the expenses of Gokak’s visit is likely to be included in the same bill. However, if the expenses are paid from the tax payers’ money, then it amounts to misuse of public office.
Satish Jarkhiholi, former minister in Siddaramiah’s cabinet, was conspicuous by his absence at the wedding venue though he was in Gokak when CM and his cabinet colleagues landed to wish the newly-wed couple, according to News Karnataka.
One will have to wait till the month end when bills are tabled for clearance to know whether the CM’S private chopper ride was sponsored by the taxpayer or not.