Is a communist leader using taxpayers' money for Ayurveda treatment worth lakhs justified?
After health minister KK Shailja and Assembly speaker P Sreeramakrishnan landed themselves in a controversy over claiming big sums from the state exchequer as reimbursement for buying spectacles, finance minister Thomas Isaac has found himself in a similar row.
It has emerged that Isaac got Rs 1.20 lakh reimbursed for taking a 14-day treatment at an Ayurveda centre in Malappuram in December 2016. Of the total bill, Rs 80,000 amounts to accommodation charges while the minister was granted reimbursement even for the 14 bath towels he used during the stay.
Obviously, the issue is not a state minister receiving an Ayurveda treatment worth Rs 1.20 lakh but him using taxpayers' money to pay for it, instead of his personal income.
The revelation is even more shocking, considering Isaac is a leader of the CPM, a party based on communist and Marxist philosophies and - at least theoretically - calls to lead a lifestyle with simplicity. Ironically, Isaac had claimed the government was looking at means of austerity and cost-cutting to tide over the financial crisis, while he presented the state budget last week.
It's also perplexing as to why the finance minister chose to go to take the treatment at a private Ayurveda clinic going all the way to Malappuram when there is a government-run Ayurveda facility available at the state capital.