A day after entitling MLAs to purchase four-wheelers worth up to Rs 20 lakh from their local area development fund, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday withdrew the order.
The CM’s swift U-turn came amid a backlash from the opposition and media reaction to allowing the use of public money for buying swanky cars. “The role of the opposition in a democracy is important and appropriate suggestions should be accepted. Even the reaction from the media was not good,” Yadav told mediapersons. “The issue is now closed.”
Yadav’s largesse for the state’s 402 MLAs as well as 100 MLCs could have potentially cost the exchequer more than Rs 100 crore, but the opposition parties turned down his offer.
Leader of the opposition, BSP MLA Swami Prasad Maurya, said the Samajwadi Party had bowed to opposition pressure. “It is good that the government has rectified the mistake.”
Congress leader Akhilesh Pratap Singh said the government had “shown it has the courage to rectify” a wrong.
BJP spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak welcomed the withdrawal of the order, but questioned why the offer had been made.
Announcing the entitlement, the CM had said several MLAs could not afford vehicles and having one would help them perform their duties better. The CM’s desire to improve the mobility of MLAs would have gone against rules governing use of the development fund.
Framed around 15 years ago, the guidelines for using the MLA local area development fund are based on those applicable for the Centre’s MP local area development fund.
According to the rulebook, in case of any confusion or ambiguity on use of the money, the MP fund guidelines will prevail.
The MP fund rules prohibit purchase of all movable items except vehicles, earthmovers and equipment for hospitals, educational institutions, sports and water and sanitation purposes.