His "perpetual" absence from parliament may have pushed the government on the backfoot, but DMK leader and chemicals and fertilisers minister M.K. Alagiri's Maldives holiday during the budget session had approval from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
Replying to an RTI application, the ministry said Alagiri had sought permission from the PMO on April 12 for his 10-day vacation to Maldives beginning April 17.
Delhi-based RTI applicant Subhash Agrawal had asked if the minister had informed the prime minister or union cabinet secretary about his personal trip during Parliament session. Alagari's absence had the opposition up in the arms against the government.
"Prime Minister's Office was informed," the ministry said.
"Approval of the PMO is required," it said in reply to another query about the rules and norms to be followed by union ministers in regard to their responsibilities and duties towards parliament before going on private trips.
The DMK leader went to the Maldives soon after the second half of the budget session began April 15. In the Lok Sabha, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, of which the DMK is an ally, had a tough time convincing the opposition that queries related to the chemicals ministry would be suitably answered by Alagiri's junior minister Srikant Jena.
The trouble began when a question about the overpricing of medicines came up and the opposition, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was up on its feet, complaining about the cabinet minister's absence.
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj argued that Alagiri had remained "perpetually" absent from the House and had failed to attend even cabinet meetings.