Mumbai, Mar 28 (PTI) After ‘smelling rat’ in the state secretariat, the Maharashtra Congress unit today sought to create a ‘storm in a teacup’ by accusing the chief minister’s office (CMO) of inflated bills on tea and snacks.

Citing papers obtained through the Right To Information (RTI) Act, Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president Sanjay Nirupam said there was a 577 per cent rise in the bills of tea and snacks served in the chief minister’s office.

“What tea is the chief minister drinking?” he asked.

“Information obtained under the RTI has revealed that the expenditure on tea and snacks in the chief minister’s office (CMO) rose from around Rs 58 lakh in 2015-16 to Rs 3.34 crore in 2017-18, a dramatic increase of 577 per cent,” the Congress leader said.

“The RTI document shows a steady increase in the amount of money spent on tea consumption in the chief minister’s office,” he said.

The allegation by the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president follows charges of large-scale irregularities in a contract awarded to kill rodents inside the Mantralaya, the state secretariat in south Mumbai.

Nirupam said 18,591 cups of tea were served daily in the office of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

“What kind of tea is Devendra Fadnavis drinking? We have heard of green tea, yellow tea and so on. But Fadnavis seems to be drinking some kind of ‘golden’ tea. I cannot imagine this huge expenditure on tea when farmers are dying in Maharashtra on a daily basis,” he said.

“On one hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes great pride in saying that he was a ‘chaiwala’ (tea seller). Fadnavis seems to have taken this a bit too far since the ‘chai’ he is drinking cannot be sold at a regular tea stall,” he said.

The former parliamentarian added that both Modi and Fadnavis were taking the country for a ride in the name of ‘chai’.

There has been no response so far from the chief minister’s office to the Congress leader’s claims.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.