LUCKNOW -- Tea and snacks like samosa and gulab jamun offered to guests by ministers have cost the Uttar Pradesh state exchequer nearly ₹9 crore during four years of Akhilesh Yadav government.
To be precise, ₹8,78,12,474 was splurged over snacks between 15 March, 2012 when the Akhilesh Yadav government took oath and 15 March, 2016, when it completed four years.
The data was disclosed by none other than the Chief Minister himself in the state Assembly.
Minister of State (Independent Charge) Arun Kumar Kori was on the top of the list to have spent Rs 22,93,800 during her four years as Social Welfare minister, followed by Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan who spent Rs 22,86,620.
Minister for Child Development and Nutrition, Primary Education, Kailash Chaurasia finished a close third spending Rs 22,85,900.
Interestingly, PWD Minister Shivpal Yadav has spent nothing on refreshments, as per the data.
Other senior ministers who spent over ₹21 lakh on refreshments are Ram Karan Arya, Sports and Youth Welfare Minister and Jagdish Sonkar, Land Development and Water Resources Minister.
The Chief Minister, however, clarified that as per rule, a minister can spend ₹2,500 per day on refreshments within the state and Rs 3,000 daily outside the state for performing his/her duties.
Former UP minister Shiv Kumar Beria, who was sacked on October 2015 had spent Rs 21,93,900 during his tenure as minister.
Minister of State for Women Welfare (Independent charge) Sadab Fatima spent Rs 72,500 in her short term of one year.
Dubbing it as "loot of public money", BJP spokesman Harishchand Srivastav said that while the state government has failed on health, education and welfare programmes, its ministers were spending lavishly to entertain their guests at the cost of the state exchequer.
Samajwadi party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary defended the ministers.
"This money is used for official meetings and some times on people who come from the ministers' constituencies in large numbers. This is just a courtesy which the staff of ministers follow," he said.
Also on HuffPost India.