Right To Information (RTI) details sought from two sources in connection with Kerala Speaker Sreeramakrishnan have given varied results. What adds more to the confusion is that the personal explanation by the Speaker himself on social media which provides a different number as well.
The data gains prominence as there were numerous allegations raised of the Speaker's role in connection with the Dollar smuggling scam as well as of the news that emerged of his close contact with Swapna Suresh and other prime accused in the gold smuggling case. During the investigation, there were many allegations that the Speaker also has investments in the UAE, in the education sector. The Speaker, however, had rubbished all these claims.
The contradictions emerge with the reply by the Consulate General in India in Dubai. The RTI filed by activist Dhanaraj S shows that the speaker had visited the UAE 21 times. The Dubai consulate also furnishes the information that the consulate didn't receive any bills for his travel and that all the travel was private. It also said that 3 of the travel of this was transit.
At the same time, another RTI filed by Dhanraj himself in the state public information officer in Kerala reveals that since 2016, the speaker has made a total of 10 visits to the UAE, which is 11 less than the figures given by the consulate. It also adds that two of them were private.
This RTI which details the whereabouts of his travel includes the Speakers' conference held in London hosted by the commonwealth parliamentary association in 2016, a function held by 'Loka Kerala Sabha' in October 2019, another function in Kuwait in 2017, May 2019 program of Loka Kerala Sabha, 2019 April programme with Jeddah Novodaya as well as Ponanni Pravasi function, 2019 May function in Kuwait, 2019 September Programme in Bahrain to celebrate Onam, 2019 December inauguration of a school in Doha and 2020 function in Dubai.
The RTI also says, apart from these for family matters, he had travelled twice to UAE. The RTI also says that for 4 programmes that were attended by Speakers a travel allowance of Rs 9,05,787 were provided. The remaining 4 functions TA/DA was not claimed, which means the speaker either had a sponsored trip or travelled privately.
Contrary to these two figures, The third information of the Speakers travel details emerged from the clarification he provided on his own Facebook Post.
On July 16, last year, the Speaker wrote, while clarifying various allegations raised against him in connection to gold smuggling, "In the last four years, I have travelled to UAE 14 times. Of these, 5 travels were done to attend functions upon receiving an invitation by organisations who are in alliance with the opposition. 5 travels were for the official work of Loka Kerala Sabha. Recently, one person visit was done due to an unexpected medical emergency in the family. The remaining travel (3) were done along with my family in Sharjah and Dubai to enable an internship for my daughter. For my private travel, I have ensured that I have not used exchequers money. The remaining travel was arranged by hosts. In most of my travels, my stay was at my sister's home."
When Republic TV contacted the Speaker's office with the discrepancies, the office remained cautious to respond to which of the three numbers are correct. They told this author to file for an appeal and ascertain the right information. The office maintained that there cannot be any discrepancies as all the processes are transparent.