JAIPUR: In a huge embarrassment to the Vasundhara Raje government, the Rajasthan High Court has ordered that no government functions should be carried out simultaneously with the Chief Minister's 'Gaurav Yatra'. The High Court had earlier heard the petition involving exchequer's money being wasted in the Gaurav Yatra but had reserved its decision. On Teacher's Day, however, the Chief Justice's bench ordered an immediate stop to all government programs taking place along with Raje's poll Yatra.
The court verdict comes on a PIL filed by advocate Vibhuti Bhushan Sharma and social activist Sawai Singh. The PIL had argued that the 'Gaurav Yatra' was being carried out by the Chief Minister to promote the BJP's electoral fortunes but its expenditure was being passed on to taxpayers money. The petitioner, Sawai Singh claimed that government PROs were appointed during the Chief Minister's rallies which meant further misuse of government money and even though the matter is in court, the BJP government continues to spend lavishly on its Yatra.
The controversy over misuse of public funds has persisted right since the start of Raje's yatra, touted as the 'poll yatra'. The Congress Chief in the state, Sachin Pilot, accused the BJP government of wasting public funds for organizing this political rally.
Pilot had shared a copy of the PWD order with the media which stated that the Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department( PWD ) was instructed to arrange tents, loudspeakers, podiums etc. for all of Raje's 40-day tour. The Congress had alleged that despite High Court reservations, the PWD Department had gone ahead and issued a high-valued tender for the Yatra.
Earlier on 16th August, the Raje Government had cleared its position on the matter with a statement which claimed that the Yatra was being conducted by the BJP party funds and that there was no misappropriation of official funds as the Yatra had nothing to do with the Government.
It was a rally taken out to make the public aware of various schemes of their tenure and as the Chief Minister was a part of it, the security and other protocols needed had to be taken care of. "Our Chief Minister's security protocol arrangements had to be made by the government departments. As such, it is not possible to keep 'Gaurav Yatra' separate from other government programs", state government's Attorney General, N M Lodha, had said.
The case related to the alleged misuse of government funds was heard by the bench headed by Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and it had ordered the BJP to submit a detailed account of the Yatra expenses. In the last hearing BJP had presented the affidavit of its expenses in the court.
After the High Court order, the opposition Congress has hit out against the Raje government and said that if they have any shred of morality, they must apologise to the people of Rajasthan for wasting public funds for their political gains. Rajasthan state Congress president, Sachin Pilot, said at the 'Sankalp' rally in Barmer, "High Court has shown a mirror to the government by telling them that no government functions can take place with 'Guarav Yatra' . I want to thank the High Court and the people of the state."
Chief minister Vasundhra Raje's Gaurav Yatra is being conducted to galvanize party workers for the upcoming assembly polls. The yatra was flagged off by the national party president Amit Shah on 4th August from Jaipur.