The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttarakhand has spent Rs 68.59 lakh on tea and refreshments for guests since Trivendra Singh Rawat became chief minister in March 2017, a response to an Right To Information query revealed, the Hindustan Times reported.

RTI activist Hemant Singh filed the query in December 2017, NDTV reported.

On January 22, he got a response from Additional Secretary (secretariat administration) Vinod Raturi, which said Rs 68,59,865 was spent on “chai paani” (tea and refreshments) since Trivendra Singh Rawat assumed office on March 18, 2017.

Around Rs 22,000 was spent a day on average, to entertain 150-200 guests, according to the response.

Meanwhile, according to the chief minister’s office, Rs 50,38,880 was spent on refreshments –
Rs 33,85,791 at the chief minister’s home and Rs 16,53,089 at his office. The chief minister’s media coordinator Darshan Rawat said they will find out how the amount calculated came to Rs 68.59 lakh, the Hindustan Times reported.

“Such expenses are natural, but if they go beyond a limit then it is a matter of concern,” BJP spokesperson Virender Bisht told The Times of India.

The media coordinator Darshan Rawat said this government has “controlled” expenses, compared to the previous one. A similar RTI query had revealed the Congress’ Harish Rawat government spent Rs 1.5 crore on tea and refreshments between February 2014 and July 2016.

“Unlike others, the Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has said no to organising programmes at hotels to cut down expenses,” the coordinator said.

A Congress spokesperson Mathura Dutta Joshi reacted saying, “BJP is a party with a difference.” Joshi told the Hindustan Times, “So whatever they do is justified.”