Mulayam makes Akhilesh recall govt financed car proposal
Decision withdrawn within 24-hours SP says, babus made proposal without consulting party
Virendra Nath Bhatt
Twenty four hours after he made the announcement Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav recalled his controversial decision allowing state Legislators to spend Rs 20 Lakh from the MLA development fund for the purchase of private vehicles.
According to Samajwadi Party sources, it was Mulayam Singh Yadav who forced his son to withdraw the proposal. Yadav senior was upset that the decision was taken without consulting the party leadership.
“It was the handiwork of the bureaucrats, so the party had to intervene and direct the government to withdraw the controversial and unpopular decision allowing the MLAs to purchase vehicle worth Rs 20Lakh from the MLA Fund’’, said senior SP leader Mohan Singh Rajya Sabha MP.
UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav issued a statement on Wednesday to explain the rollback. “The government has decided to withdraw the decision as the Legislators are not in favour of utilising the funds from the MLA Fund (Vidhyak Nidhi)to purchase the vehicle’’.
However, the CM defended his original decision, “there are still many Legislators who do not have a vehicle which they need for serving their respective constituency’’. The CM also blamed the media for stoking the controversy. “The media added to the confusion and misunderstanding and did not interpret this decision in the right context,” he said.
On the negative reaction of the opposition parties to the proposal the CM said, “opposition has an important role to play in a democracy and my government has no hesitation in accepting good suggestions from them”.
This rollback has once again brought to the fore the confusion within the nearly four-month-old SP government. The Opposition parties in UP had described this proposal as “bizarre and retrograde”. Earlier the government’s 17 June decision ordering that markets close down early was also withdrawn within 24 hours. Then, as the stated faced a power crisis, the government had ordered that all shopping malls and markets close down at 7pm. The order was issued by the Labour department on 17 June and was revoked on 18 June. The order had stated that the directive will be enforced in the state for a fortnight and strict action would be taken against those violating the order.
The parliamentary affairs minister Azam Khan while replying to an adjournment notice given by the BJP in UP Assembly on 18 June had disowned the order. “There is no order directing the closure of markets and shopping malls by 7 pm, its just an advice by the government for saving power to meet the crisis,” he had said.
However on Wednesday 4 July Khan reiterated his support of the government’s proposal allowing MLAs to purchase vehicles worth Rs 20 Lakh each. “Many members of both the houses of the state Legislature cannot afford cars, this makes it difficult for them to travel within their constituency and discharge their duties as public representatives,” said Khan. According to him people had failed to appreciate the real intent of the government behind the proposal. “This is an enabling proposal, not mandatory and only for those legislators who are not in a position to buy a vehicle,” he added.
Opposition slams the brakes on Akhilesh Yadav’s Rs 106 crore car fund
Proposal sanctions Rs 20 lakh each to 503 legislators to buy private vehicles from govt funds
Virendra Nath Bhatt
Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh have rejected the proposal of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to allow Legislators to spend as much as Rs 20 lakh from the MLA development Fund for the purchase of personal vehicles. The Opposition described the move of the government as “bizarre and retrograde”.
Presenting the proposal in the state Assembly on Tuesday 3 July, Yadav said the 403 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and 100 Members of Legislative Council (MLCs) can spent up to Rs 20 lakh each out of the MLA fund. After the end of their five-year-term, the MLA will have to refund the cost of the vehicle after deducting the depreciation in cost of the vehicle in five years and they would become the owner of the vehicle. If all the members buy a vehicle worth Rs 20 lakh each, then it will cost the exchequer around Rs 106 crore.
The CM also announced a hike in the MLA Fund popularly known as ‘Vidhayak Nidhi’ from Rs 1.25 crore to Rs 1.50 crore (per year) for the five year term MLAs and six year term of the MLCs. Several Samajwadi Party Legislators, however, opposed the proposal saying the funds can be utilised for the various development schemes like the drinking water in both rural and urban areas.
The CM made the announcement for the vehicle on the concluding day of the Budget Session. The proposal was rejected by the opposition which termed it ‘bizarre and retrograde’. Members of both the legislative Houses are entitled to the Vidhayak Nidhi, the members have to utilise the funds for development works in their constituencies.
Opposition parties, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were on their feet in the Assembly as soon as the announcement was made by the CM. According to the Opposition, this proposal will send a bad signal to the people. The Samajwadi Party, however, defended the move saying it was only an enabling provision and it was not mandatory for the Legislators to buy a vehicle using the MLA fund.
The leader of Opposition in UP Assembly, senior BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya said, “my party has rejected the CM’s proposal with the contempt it deserves and nor will any BSP MLA buy a vehicle from the MLA Fund’’. The state BJP president and MLA from Meerut, Lakshmi Narayan added, “ this decision is against the dignity of the MLAs. The utilisation of funds from the Vidhayak Nidhi , has always been suspect in the eyes of the common people.” He submitted a memorandum to the Speaker of the Assembly Mata Prasad Pandey seeking that the proposal adopted by the assembly be revoked. “The government should think of some other alternatives for helping the MLAs to buy a vehicle,” added Pramod Tewari of the Congress said.
In 2000 when Ram Prakash Gupta was the BJP Chief Minister, the government had proposed that MLAs could buy laptop computers from the MLA Fund. The proposal was withdrawn within days in the face of vehement opposition by the opposition parties.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka. email@example.com