Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi
New Delhi, Oct 5

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office Friday denied the government paid the travel and medical bills of UPA chief Sonia Gandhi, describing as "untrue and misleading" the Rs.1,880-crore ($363 million) figure taken by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The clarification from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) came after Modi raised the issue of Gandhi's foreign travel since 2004, saying these had been borne by the government.

"The PMO would like to put on record that the government has incurred no expenses on UPA chairperson's visits abroad," the PMO said in a statement.

Before the statement was released, the PMO tweeted the clarification on micro-blogging site Twitter.

"It is further clarified that the government has not borne any expenses for UPA chairperson's medical treatment abroad and in India," it said.

"The reports quoting an expense of Rs.1,880 crore are untrue and misleading," it added.

Gandhi has been frequently travelling abroad in the last year or so to get treated for an undisclosed ailment, which remains a secret till date.

The Congress has insisted that her health was a personal matter and would not be discussed in public domain.

However, Modi sought the central government's response to media reports that Rs.1,880 crore was spent on her travels.

The PMO said: "During the last eight years, only one trip to Belgium undertaken (by Gandhi) at the invitation of the Belgian government to receive a national honour was paid for by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The total cost was less than Rs.300,000."

However, the expenses for Gandhi's security contingent were borne by the Special Protection Group, the PMO added.

The PMO also noted that the Central Information Commissioner had already denied the reports and made a statement on Gandhi's travels abroad.

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