Barely 10 days after completing 100 days in office, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday opened a goody bag for MLAs, entitling them to purchase four-wheelers worth up to Rs. 20 lakh from their local area development fund.
If all 402 MLAs take up on the offer of the youngest CM of India’s most populous and politically crucial state, the largesse will potentially cost the exchequer Rs. 80 crore.
Announcing the entitlement on the penultimate day of the budget session, Yadav, 38, said, “This will help MLAs who do not have money buy vehicles.”
The ruling Samajwadi Party welcomed the CM’s move, but the opposition was not enthused.
Hukum Singh, leader of the BJP legislature party, said, “BJP MLAs have decided not to purchase cars with the MLA fund. People will doubt the integrity of an MLA using public money for personal convenience.”
Leader of the opposition, BSP MLA Swami Prasad Maurya, said his party’s legislators too would “not purchase cars with public money”.
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari also opposed the decision, saying it would set a wrong precedent. Tiwari, however, urged the CM to increase the MLA area development fund in accordance with an announcement made by his father and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2007.
Taking the opposition’s views on board, the CM raised the MLA area development fund by Rs. 25 lakh — from Rs. 1.25 crore to Rs. 1.5 crore per year.
On the vehicle scheme, he said, “Several MLAs cannot afford a vehicle. They can use the fund. The vehicle’s value would depreciate each year and after five years an MLA can deposit the depreciated amount and buy it or hand it over.”
The CM added that the government would not pay for maintenance of vehicles bought with the MLA fund.