Mumbai, April 8
While a majority of Congress MPs have resented suspension of the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund for two years (2020-2021/2021-2022) by the Central Government, NCP MPs also joined the protest and have decided to seek clarification from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
NCP MP Supriya Sule, daughter of the party chief Sharad Pawar, said that while the decision to reduce MPs’s salary by 30 per cent is welcome, it is not clear why the MPs fund has been suspended for two years, because this fund of Rs 5 crore is utilised for development work in respective constituencies by MPs.
In an official tweet from her handle @supriya_sule, she said, “I support the reduction in the MPs salary. WRT the suspension of the MPLAD funds for a duration of two years, I hope that the entire amount of MPLAD funds contributed by all Maharashtra MPs of both houses, are deployed in our state with concurrence of the state administration towards the welfare of our citizens”.
The centre has taken the decision to suspend MPLAD in view of the crisis arising out of “Covid 19” . This is understood. But we too have a right to seek clarification. Modi is expected to have a dialogue with MPs soon and we will certainly raise this issue, she added.
Similarly Shiv Sena MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency (In Konkan region of Maharashtra) said that “There was no need to utilise the two years MPLAD fund when one year’’s fund was sufficient. We understand that the fight against coronavirus is important, but other facilities should not be deprived which an MP offers through his funds,” he said.
The Congress leaders-Ahmed Patel, Randeep Singh Surjewala , Manish Tewari, and Veteran CPM leader and party general secretary Sitaram Yechury have already reacted sharply to the decision to cut MPLAD saying it would undermine the role of MPs since they will not be able to carry out any development work.
Ahmed Patel “As a Member of Parliament, I welcome the government’s decision to cut salaries of MPs. In this difficult time, this is the least we can do to help fellow citizens,” Patel said on Twitter. “Apart from cutting salaries of MPs and ministers, the central government can save more than Rs 20,000 crore by scrapping the central vista redevelopment project and cutting down on non-Covid-19 publicity expenses,” he also said.
Veteran CPM leader and party general secretary Sitaram Yechury also reacted sharply to the suspension of the MPLAD scheme. There is enough evidence that covid-19 is best fought at the state and local level, he said. The suspension of MPLAD goes against federalism, development, will weaken our fight. This government has continuously wasted public money on statues, extravagant personal publicity campaigns and events,” he added.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor “ I used my fund to get urgently-needed rapid test kits and PPE to Thiruvananthapuram’s health workers. The Centre has allocated Rs 157 crore of Disaster Response Mitigation Funds to Kerala, which has 314 Covid-19 cases, while Gujarat, with only 122 cases, gets Rs 662 crore. Will this kind of imbalance also affect the reallocation of MPLADS funds,” he asked.
However, senior party leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh has gone against the party’s stand and welcomed the government’s decision on MPLADS. “I welcome the decision on MPLADS. I have been arguing for long that the approximately Rs 7000 crore given to MPs & MLAs annually for development works should be used as a corpus for State funding of elections,” Ramesh said.
The Union cabinet has decided to suspend the MPLAD fund for two years and effecting a 30% pay cut for all members of Parliament (MPs), including the prime minister and central ministers. The President, vice-president, and the governors have also voluntarily decided to forgo 30% of their salary for a year.
MPs get a monthly salary of Rs.1,00,000. They are also entitled to a constituency allowance of Rs.70,000 per month and office allowance of Rs.60,000 per month. The non-operation of the MPLAD fund for two years will allow the government to channelize the earmarked corpus of Rs.7,900 crore to the consolidated fund of India.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]
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