Aam Aadmi Party MLA Atishi Sunday wrote to Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy saying that BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra was holding the position of the chairman of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) in violation of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules.
She marked a copy of the letter Central Vigilance Commission chairman Suresh N Patel.
“Sambit Patra, national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), was appointed as Chairman of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) on 30th November, 2021 for a period of 3 years. ITDC falls under the supervision and control of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India,” she wrote, adding that Patra’s appointment was made by Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) in an “unprecedented move to allegedly accommodate Mr Patra”.
The letter comes days after BJP MP from West Delhi Parvesh Verma complained that Delhi Dialogue and Development Commission Vice Chair Jasmine Shah was violating rules as he was also acting as a spokesperson for the AAP. Shah, however, does not officially hold the position of an AAP spokesperson. The Planning Department of the Delhi government issued a showcause notice to Shah asking him to explain his position.
In her letter Sunday, Atishi said, “By continuing to hold the post of BJP National Spokesperson, Shri. Sambit Patra is disqualified in law from holding the post of Chairman, ITDC under Rule 5 of the CCS (Conduct) Rules 1964 and also under principles of neutrality required for holding any public office. The post of Chairman ITDC is a non-political post and the Chairman in not just required to be independent but also seen to be independent of any political affiliation. It should duly be noted that Mr. Patra seemingly holds no prior experience in tourism sector.”
She added, “There are replete examples (widely available in the public domain) wherein Shri Patra while holding the post of Chairman ITDC has abused the said office by appearing in news channels and press conferences on behalf of the BJP as its National Spokesperson. It also alleged that Mr Patra regularly conducts political meetings at ITDC offices and attends TV interviews and debates in his capacity as BJP’s spokesperson from the premises of ITDC. Reference in this regard may be had to the official twitter account.”
Atishi also alleged Patra had been misusing his position.
“It has also been brought to our notice that Mr Patra has been allegedly misusing his position to grant favours to his political colleagues in the BJP and family members in ITDC owned 5 star hotel properties. These favours are allegedly not limited to solely granting complimentary boarding but allegedly extend to awarding work contracts too. By assuming the office of Chairman, ITDC, Shri. Sambit Patra is deemed to be a “public servant”, as defined under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. By virtue of being a public servant, Shri. Patra is required to resign from his post of National Spokesperson BJP to be able to continue to hold the post of Chairman, ITDC,” she wrote.
“He is also under law required to conduct himself in a neutral manner inasmuch as while holding the office of Chairman, ITDC, he is required to be objective and not canvass or propagate the view of the BJP. On both counts, Shri. Patra has been in continuous breach of the said requirements. By drawing pay, allowances and other facilities in his capacity as Chairman, ITDC, Shri. Patra is a Government Servant and therefore bound by Rule 5 of the CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964,” she added.
The BJP is yet to respond to the letter.