With the BJP often targeting the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his “secret” foreign travels, a ruling party member has pitched for a law to make it mandatory for MPs to disclose the details of their overseas trips, including sources of funding and expenses incurred.
BJP Member of Parliament GVL Narasimha Rao has introduced a private members bill, the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, in Rajya Sabha, asserting that as public representatives MPs must make complete disclosure about their foreign travels, including those undertaken in their personal capacity.
“Foreign hospitality received in any manner from foreign governments or institutions must also be disclosed to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha or the Speaker of Lok Sabha as the case may be besides seeking prior permission from the Central government as per section 9 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act,” the bill says.
Rao noted that lawmakers were issued guidelines in 2017 about sharing details of their foreign visits, including the ones in personal capacity, and the Parliament Affairs Ministry in July 2019 reiterated them through a communication.
However, most MPs have not adhered to the advisory in the absence of a statutory requirement, he noted, as he underlined the need for a law in this regard.
“MPs are important public functionaries and transparency about their functioning, sources of their income and expenses is necessary to demonstrate their financial integrity. From time-to-time, Parliament has enacted legislation and framed rules to ensure that those elected to Parliament uphold the cherished ideal,” he said.
Though private members bills are rarely passed, a discussion on the proposed legislation will allow BJP members to attack the Congress as the ruling party has time and again attacked its leader Rahul Gandhi for his “secret” foreign trips.
In October this year, the party at a press conference questioned his “frequent” foreign visits and the “secrecy” about them, asking if he was involved in some secret operation. It has argued that his foreign visits are a matter of public interest as he is a public representative.