Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited 58 countries since 2015, and ₹517.82 crore has been spent on them, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Union Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs V Muraleedharan gave this information in reply to a question by NCP Rajya Sabha MP Fauzia Khan.
According to the details provided by Muraleedharan, the Prime Minister made five visits each to the US, Russia and China, and multiple trips to some other countries such as Singapore, Germany, France, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.
The reply said the Prime Minister’s overseas visits have “enhanced understanding of India’s perspectives on bilateral, regional and global issues by other countries, and have strengthened our relations with them across a wide range of sectors including trade and investment, technology, maritime, space, defence collaboration and people-to-people contact”.
These visits in turn have contributed to India’s national development agenda to promote economic growth and well being of its people, the reply added.
The Minister’s reply also said that the country is now increasingly contributing to shaping the global agenda at the multilateral levels, including on climate change, trans-national crime and terrorism, cyber security, and nuclear non-proliferation. India is also offering to the world its own unique initiatives for global issues such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
During the Budget Session of Parliament in March, Muraleedharan gave a detailed break-up of the expenditure incurred by the government on the PM’s foreign tours in the last five years. The MEA put the cumulative expenditure at ₹446.52 crore — ₹121.85 crore in 2015-16, ₹78.52 crore in 2016-17, ₹99 crore in 2017-18, ₹100.02 crore in 2018-19, and ₹46.23 crore in 2019-20.
As per PM India website, Modi has not undertaken any foreign tour this year. But MEA in the monsoon session has put the cost incurred on his foreign visits at ₹571.82 crore — an increase of ₹125.30 crore. It is possible that some of bills during the foreign trips undertaken by the PM in the late 2019 were received in the intervening lockdown period.
The opposition has repeatedly accused the Prime Minister of spending “public’s money” on foreign visits for “self-promotion and selfies.”
Last year, on World Tourism Day, the Congress had taken a dig at the Prime Minister’s official tour to foreign countries by tweeting a collage of photos of him in which he was seen boarding or de-boarding an Air India plane. The party captioned it: “Happy World Tourism Day.”