Opposition MPs in West Bengal have blamed the “non-cooperation” of Trinamool Congress-led state government and district administrations for unused MPLADS fund, even as Mohammad Salim of the CPI(M) tops the list of state MPs for spending the highest proportion of the funds released.
According to official data, Rs 803.76 crore has been spent out of the total Rs 928.09 crore available under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) during the 16th Lok Sabha. Rs 124.27 crore remain unspent till date.
The Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation specifies the role of MPs is limited to recommending the projects and it is the responsibility of the district authorities to sanction, execute and complete the works.
Babul Supriyo (BJP) who is seeking re-election from Asansol has spent 72.68 per cent of the MPLADS funds.
However, BJP Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia, who has recorded 56.30 per cent utilisation of the released MPLADS funds, claimed he recommended about 312 projects worth Rs 25.22 crore till January end, but 228 of them were yet to be processed.
“The Trinamool government had categorically instructed officers not to approve projects recommended by BJP MPs. This is a complete non-cooperation by district authorities. Since I have recommended, funds for development in Darjeeling will be used sooner or later,” Ahluwalia told IANS.
Beharampur MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress had a similar complaint. “We were not allowed to spend the funds by the state administration.”
The four-term Congress MP used 79.85 per cent of the amount released, his party’s Malda South MP Abu Hasem Choudhury used 74.63 per cent and former President Pranab Mukherjee’s son and party’s Jangipur MP Abhijit Mukherjee 91.80 per cent.
Mohammad Salim, seeking re-election from Raiganj, used 115.14 per cent of the released funds and recommended around Rs 28.88 crore for developmental work of which Rs 21.51 crore was sanctioned. The amount available with interest in Salim’s MPLADS was Rs 20.98 crore.
Badaruddoza Khan, CPI(M) MP from Murshidabad seat, who is also seeking re-election, told IANS: “The Trinamool government did not allow us to spend MPLADS funds. I have written to the Prime Minister and the Lok Sabha Speaker seeking their interventions. About Rs 12.5 crore fund was sanctioned.” He has used 73.32 per cent of the funds.
Refuting allegations, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy told IANS: “Our focus has been development and we have been relentlessly working towards it, while the Opposition leaders lack interest. The allegations are their excuses for their own failure.”
Among the Trinamool Congress MPs whose fund utilisation has been over 100 per cent are mostly either first-time parliamentarians or those belonging to the entertainment industry like Jhargram’s MP Uma Soren, Sandhya Roy (Medinipur), Deepak (Dev) Adhikari (Ghatal) and Satabdi Roy (Birbhum).
Party veteran and Kolkata South MP Subrata Bakshi secured 100.46 per cent funds utilisation.
Opposition MPs also alleged the TMC refused tickets to better performers like Soren, Roy and Bakshi. But Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refuted the charge saying Roy asked for “a more sedate responsibility owing to her ill-health” and Bakshi preferred to work for the party.
Anupam Hazra and Soumitra Khan, who were expelled from the Trinamool for anti-party activities and joined the BJP subsequently, have ensured 89.44 per cent and 98.42 per cent utilisation, respectively. Hazra is contesting from Jadavpur while Khan is in the fray from Bishnupur.