Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh government under Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday granted permission to MLAs to buy cars costing up to Rs 20 lakh using their area development fund. Opposition parties are not amused; they have termed it as wasteful expenditure of public funds.
Uttar Pradesh has 403 MLAs; the government’s largesse will cost the state exchequer over Rs 80 crore. The Chief Minister also increased the MLA fund, better known as Vidhayak Nidhi, entitlement from the current 1.25 crore to Rs 1.5 crore.
"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 announcement comes at a time when the Uttar Pradesh government has sought a financial package from the Centre to tide over financial crisis in the state.
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.
Clearly, Akhilesh Yadav will have a lot to answer in days to come.
With PTI inputs