Following objections to the recent briefing sessions arranged by a foreign funded NGO for the MPs to enlist their support to FDI, the Lok Sabha secretariat has circulated fresh guidelines to all parliamentarians asking them to remain cautious before accepting hospitality from any organisation or institution.
The advisory has made it mandatory for MPs to keep the speaker’s office informed about such invitations and also the non-official visits abroad, even though the visits may have been cleared by the ministry of external affairs or the ministry of home affairs. Further, during their personal trips, the MPs have been asked to ensure that they do not give any ‘unintended’ impression that they represent parliament. Also, the secretariat has called for submitting invitation letters from any foreign source, either the government, organisation with details regarding the purpose and hospitality. Under the fresh Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) guidelines issued last year, the government has already restricted legislatures or office bearers of political parties and judges from accepting foreign hospitality. Under the rules, the central government, before issuing permission, has to ensure that foreign hospitality does not affect the sovereignty, public interest, freedom of fairness of elections, friendly relation with foreign state or harmony between religious, racial, social, linguistic or regional groups, caste or communities.
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta had expressed shock when he was informed about the detailed briefing for MPs on FDI by an NGO, funded by Ford Foundation and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, before the voting on the issue in Lok Sabha. He asserted, it was a clear case of lobbying and confirms America has been lobbying actively for FDI.