New Delhi: Opposition Members of Parliament in West Bengal have accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of “putting pressure” on the administration to stall the release of funds earmarked for them under a Central scheme for development work in constituencies.
A recent government report shows that many opposition MPs in the state are still to get funds under MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme), but money is flowing in for members of the Trinamool Congress.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation’s MPLADS status report for West Bengal reveals that most Trinamool Congress MPs have received money from the Central government scheme for 2017-18, while some in the opposition have not been able to utilise funds for 2014-15.
A sum of Rs 5 crore is given to each MP in two installments every year under MPLADS for development work. The funds are disbursed by nodal agencies controlled by district officials after MPs submit their project reports.
Congress MP from Baharampur Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is yet to get the second installment of Rs 2.5 crore for 2015 -16, claimed the state government was putting pressure on the nodal agencies to delay the release of the funds.
“Even if project reports are submitted, the district officials deliberately delay the process to tarnish the image of Congress MPs in the eyes of the common people. This is political vendetta,” Chowdhury told PTI.
A Trinamool Congress MP, who did not wish to be named, shrugged off the opposition claims.
“We do not even wish to comment on this,” he said.
A letter from the ministry was sent to the principal secretary of Planning, government of West Bengal, on August 21, asking it to direct all nodal agencies to furnish documents that would enable the ministry to release the pending funds for Bengal MPs.
CPI(M) MPs Mohammad Salim and Badaruddoza khan were yet to receive their first and second installments for 2016-17 and 2015-16 respectively as the nodal agencies had not sent the utilisation certificates for 2015-16 and 2014-15.
Utilisation certificates are sent by the district nodal agencies to the Centre after the fund has been utilised, stating what project the MP used it for.
Salim alleged that “clear instructions” had been given to the district administration to slow down the process of releasing funds till the Panchayat elections, which are due in 2018.
“Even if some officials are trying to do their job, the Mamata Government is bent upon transferring them,” he claimed.
Central minister and BJP Lok Sabha MP from Darjeeling S S Ahluwalia too has not been able to get the first installment of funds for 2015-16 as his utilisation certificate for 2014- 15 has not been provided to the Centre by the nodal officers.
According to the status report, a few Trinamool Congress MPs’ work has also been affected. MPs Kunal Ghosh and Mukul Roy, both said to have been sidelined by the party, have not yet received funds for 2014-15.
In 2015, Roy was removed as party general secretary after his name came up in the Saradha chit fund case.
Ghosh, who was arrested and jailed for three years in the case, moved the Calcutta High Court last year, seeking direction to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation on the utilisation of his MPLAD funds.
“Even if the funds are slowly being released, the backlog of three years will take a long time. I have submitted all the project documents but I am still facing total non-cooperation from nodal agencies,” he told PTI.
In the ruling party, celebrity politicians have fared better than the others. The record shows that Lok Sabha MPs and filmstars Deepak Adhikari, popularly known as Dev, Moon Moon Sen and Sandhya Roy are due for the second installment of funds for 2016-17 or 2017-18.