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Kerala finance minister caught in a row

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac was caught in a row on Sunday over reimbursement of his Ayurvedic treatment bill, a day after the assembly Speaker courted controversy for getting his costly spectacles refunded from the state exchequer.

Earlier, state health minister KK Shylaja had purchased glasses worth Rs 28,000 and got it reimbursed, while Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan had purchased a pair of spectacles for nearly Rs 50,000.

The latest RTI reply revealed that Isaac had spent Rs 1,20,048 lakh for his 14-day treatment at a private Ayurveda hospital and got it reimbursed.

The total amount comprised Rs 79,200 for room rent, Rs 21,990 as treatment expenses, besides the other things, it said.

In further embarrassment, the amount of 14 ‘thorthu’ (small cotton bath towel), used by him during the treatment, was also mentioned in the bill, claimed by him.

The RTI reply came to the limelight days after Isaac, during the budget presentation, had urged all government departments to tighten their belts and restrict expenses in the wake of the acute financial crunch faced by the state.

Meanwhile, the opposition BJP rapped the ruling LDF government over the alleged extravaganza of its ministers and members.

BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan on Sunday mocked at Isaac and said the finance minister who was ‘wailing’ about the fiscal crisis, had claimed public money even for the pillow and ‘thorthu’ used by him.

The government should explain why its ministers were not trusting the public health sector while waxing eloquent about its high standards, he said.

On Saturday, another RTI replay had revealed that Assembly speaker P Sreeramakrishnan had spent Rs 49,900 for spectacles — Rs 4,900 for the frame and Rs 45,000 for the lens.

The Speaker had also got medical reimbursement of Rs 4.25 lakh between 5 October, 2016 to 19 January this year.

Earlier, Health Minister KK Shylaja had landed in a controversy after she purchased spectacles worth Rs 28,000 and got it reimbursed from the exchequer.

There were also allegations that she had forged documents to claim reimbursement of medical expenses for her husband.

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