New Delhi: Recently, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government decided to suspend the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds for two years and divert a total of Rs 7,900 crore to the Consolidated Fund of India in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. The Centre’s decision drew the ire of many parliamentarians, mainly from the Indian National Congress (INC) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), but a close look at the MPLADS funds expenditure from data available on the MPLADS portal suggests that almost none of the TMC or Congress MPs made an effort to spend the total funds allocated to them during the 17th Lok Sabha.
However, before the Centre scrapped MPLADS funds for two years, several MPs, including Shashi Tharoor, diverted some of their MPLADS funds to mitigate the Covid-19 crisis, but prior to that, as per data on 10 April 2020, irrespective of the political parties, most of the MPs did not spend the full amounts they received under the MPLADS funds during the 17th Lok Sabha (2019-20).
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is Congress MP from Berhampore of West Bengal, was allocated Rs 2.50 crore (2019-20), but the money is lying unspent (data as on 10 April 2020). Chowdhury, who is also the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, is among the many MPs who criticised the Modi government’s decision to scrap the MPLADS funds. The list of MPs who have not spent their MPLADS funds is long and it is impossible to accommodate all the names, but it is interesting to consider some of the examples. TMC’s Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar has nearly Rs 5 crore unspent MPLADS money (data as on 10 April 2020). Dastidar is MP from Barasat of West Bengal. The story is similar for TMC MP Mahua Moitra who attained fame for her first Lok Sabha speech. Moitra received Rs 2.5 crore MPLADS funds, but the money is lying unspent. Besides the aforementioned MPs, Mimi Chakraborty, Debasree Chaudhuri, Prof Saugata Roy, Saumitra khan, and Abhishek Banerjee are some of the other parliamentarians who have not spent their MPLADS funds.
Under the MPLADS plan, Rs 5 crore is provided to MPs to suggest development work to the district collector in their respective constituencies.