Lucknow: As promised in its party manifesto, the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday announced a controversial proposal to allow MLAs to buy four-wheelers worth upto Rs 20 lakh from their local area development fund, which was also increased by Rs 25 lakh.

Akhilesh said each of the 403 MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly can use up to Rs 20 lakh out of the Rs 5 crore allotted during a five-year tenure to buy vehicles. If all the MLAs buy a vehicle worth Rs 20 lakh, the cost to the state exchequer is said to be more than Rs 80 crore.

"Despite a financial crisis, the SP government has fulfilled all the promises it made in the party manifesto inthe budget. MLAs are allowed to purchase vehicles upto Rs 20 lakh from their local area development fund", the Chief Minister said.

He said that value of the vehicle will be depreciated every year and at the end of five years, the MLAs could deposit the depreciated amount to retain the vehicle or otherwise hand it over to the government.

"This will help MLAs who do not have money to buy a vehicle", Akhilesh Yadav said, adding that the government would not pay for maintenance of the vehicle.

Backlash over car bonanza 

The announcement by the Chief Minister in the state Assembly sparked immediate reaction from BJP, BSP and Congress leaders who said the move would send a wrong message as the money to be used for buying the vehicles would come from MLAs' local area development fund.

"The decision to buy vehicles will not send a good message to the electorate. Even MLAs buying vehicles with their own money would look as if they have used public money for the purpose. We, BJP members, will not purchase vehicles with money from the development fund", BJP leader Hukum Singh said.

BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya said that the decision would not send a good message to the public and maintained that alternative arrangements would be made by the party for the purpose of purchasing vehicles.

"BSP members will not be utilising their development fund for buying vehicles," Maurya said.

Congress leader Pramod Tiwari aired similar views and said that the Chief Minister should increase the MLA area development fund and reminded him about the announcement in this regard made by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav in the House in 2007.

Slamming the Akhilesh government, former BJP president Rajnath Singh said it had set a wrong precedent.  "By permitting MLAs to buy vehicles up to Rs 20 lakh, the SP government has set a wrong tradition.
"This is not only against the spirit of democracy but also unjustified from the legal point of view," the BJP leader said in a statement.

MLALAD funds should be used strictly for public welfare, he said demanding immediate revocation of the decision.
Flaying the move, BJP state chief and MLA Laxmi Kant Bajpai favoured interest-free loans realisable in five years for lawmakers.


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