Should there be a code/ guideline for organising dinner with public money?
An application was filed with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the details of the dinner parties hosted by the PMO in the period from 2004 to 2013.
The reply to the application states that around Rs. 1.4 crore were spent by the PMO on 20 dinners organized during the said period. According to the reply, Rs. 60 lakh was spent as catering charges, Rs. 57 lakhs were spent on setting up tents, Rs. 15 lakh was paid against lighting charges and floral arrangements costed Rs. 7 lakhs. The reply also said that these 20 dinner parties were attended by 3,064 guests thus putting an average expenditure of Rs. 4,478 on each of the guests.
However, the PMO refused to furnish information regarding the guest list who attended the dinner parties citing security reasons. It also refused to provide information on the minutes of such meetings.
Political analysts are of the view that such parties are meant to be social events but more often than not they are used for lobbying to gain some political advantages. Hence they contend that there should be some code for arranging such parties with public purse and also transparency regarding the guests.