New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's largesse to the MLAs failed to get the anticipated support from the political parties with his bitter rivals - the BJP and the BSP - rejecting the proposal that the legislators can use Constituency Development Funds to buy personal vehicles.
Akhilesh said each of the 403 MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly can use up to Rs 20 lakh out of the Rs 5 crore allotted during a five-year tenure to buy vehicles. If all the MLAs buy a vehicle worth Rs 20 lakh, the cost to the state exchequer would be more than Rs 80 crore.
However, the BJP and the BSP strongly objected to Akhilesh’s proposal saying the decision would send a wrong signal to the people of the state; the Samajwadi Party defended it saying that it's not obligatory to but a personal vehicle using the fund.
BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya said, "Giving car through this order is completely wrong. It gives wrong impression. No BSP MLA will take any car through this order." BJP leader Lakshmi Narayan, said, "This decision is completely wrong and it gives wrong impression. No BJP MLA will take any car through this order."
The SP has defended the decision of Akhilesh Yadav. Senior SP leader Azam Khan said, "This order came out after the increase in MLA fund for those who are not able to afford it and it is not compulsory that they should buy it. They will only become owner when they pay in full."
Earlier, as promised in its party manifesto, the SP government entitled MLAs to purchase four-wheelers worth upto Rs 20 lakh from their local area development fund, which was also increased by Rs 25 lakh.
"Despite a financial crisis, the SP government has fulfilled all the promises it made in the party manifesto in the budget. We entitle MLAs to purchase vehicles upto Rs 20 lakh from their local area development fund", Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced in the state Assembly.
He said that value of the vehicle will be depreciated per year and after the end of five years the MLAs could deposit the depreciated amount and hand over their vehicle.
"This will help MLAs, who did not have money to buy the vehicle", Akhilesh said adding that the government would not give any amount for maintenance of the vehicles.
The decision, however, was not appreciated by the opposition, which termed that it would send a wrong message as the money for development was spend on the vehicle.
"The decision to buy vehicles will not send a good message to the electorate. Even, MLAs buying vehicles on their own money would look as if they used public money for the purpose. We, BJP members, will not purchase vehicles from the development fund", BJP leader Hukum Singh said.
BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya also said that the decision would not send a good message to the public and added that separate arrangements would be made for the purpose of purchasing vehicles.
"BSP members will not be utilising their development fund for vehicles", Maurya said.
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari aired the same view and said that Akhilesh should increase the MLA area development fund and reminded him about the announcement made by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav in the House in 2007.
"Your father had announced to increase MLA fund by Rs 25 lakh in 2007 but could not do so. Now you have to rid you father of this 'karj' (obligation)", Tiwari said.
Following this, the Chief Minister later announced to increase the MLA fund by Rs 25 lakh--from 1.25 crore to Rs 1.5 crore.
The Chief Minister earlier informed the House and sought its support for importing coal, if it was not made available by the Centre.
"The state is not getting coal links to run 10 thermal power plants. We want support to run them on imported coal. The state government will ensure that power thus generated would be on competitive rates", Yadav said while the members supported the move.
The CM also announced that two Lohia villages would be selected for development on advise of concerned MLAs and demanded by them while Parliamentary minister assured piped water supply in two villages on request of MLAs.
Akhilesh also announced honorarium of Rs 5,000 to Vidhan Sabha staff besides providing torch, cycle and uniform to chowkidars in all the districts.
As per law, Constituency Development Funds are to be used for development work and not for personal benefits.
(With additional inputs from PTI)