New Delhi, Sep 15 (PTI) Opposition parties, including the Congress, in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday demanded restoration of Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund, even as they supported the government's decision to cut salaries of MPs.
Participating in a discussion on the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the Lower House, members of the Congress, TMC, BJD, NCP, TRS, TDP and other parties pitched for restoration of the funds.
Under the MPLADS, each MP gets Rs 5 crore every year to carry out development works in their constituencies.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the government had in April decided to suspend MPLADS funds for two years -- 2020-21 and 2021-22. The money would be transferred into the government's consolidated fund.
Making a strong case for restoration of MPLADS funds, Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy said salaries of the parliamentarians can be taken away, but the fund should be given back. He also stressed the government should cut down on bigger expenses.
Echoing similar sentiments, BJD MP Pinaki Misra said the government should seriously reconsider its decision on MPLADS funds and urged that it should be restored.
Supporting the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, NCP leader Supriya Sule said it is probably a 'drop in the ocean' in terms of salary cut and everyone wants to stand united in this regard.
The estimated cost of the proposed development of the central vista is Rs 20,000 crore and 'you (Union government) are saving around Rs 10,000 crore from MPLADS for a building which we have not asked for,' she said.
'Do you want a central vista and an office, or a ventilator and a good hospital in your constituency. It is not rocket science. I urge this government to come clean on this,' the NCP MP said.
YSR Congress member Midhun Reddy urged the government to rethink suspension of MPLADS funds, while Telangana Rashtra Samithi MP Nama Nageswara Rao called for restoration of the funds.
The funds should not be taken away, stressed Telugu Desam Party member Jayadev Galla said.
Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said MPLAD fund should be restored. Everybody has called for restoration of the funds, so 'why not, we pass an unanimous resolution' in this regard, he proposed.
Chowdhury said 93 per cent of the funds have been utilised by members and the bulk of it were spent on welfare activities for SCs, STs and villagers.
While the government is giving tax relief to the corporates, it is cutting salaries of the MPs. This is being 'penny-wise and pound-foolish', he said, adding, 'I am appealing to the House that this fund should be restored.
Other members who demanded for the same include AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, Independent MP from Maharashtra Navneet Ravi Rana, BSP's Ritesh Pandey and AIMIM's S I Jaleel.
TMC MP Mahua Moitra said the government is doing a disservice by this decision, while Navneet Ravi Rana said the fund is 'very important for us' and the government should not take 'our rights'. PTI RR RAM NSD