Shashi Tharoor writes to Prime Minister Modi, seeks to reverse government decision to suspend MPLAD funds

NEW DELHI: Principal Leader of Congress Shashi Tharoor on Monday he urged the prime minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the Center's decision to suspend the MPLADS funds for two years, saying that they have demonstrable potential to be deployed as an effective complement to the initiatives being made by central and state governments.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Tharoor praised the government for its decision to review the salaries of members of Parliament and offered its unconditional support.

However, he expressed concern about the government's decision to suspend all funds from the Parliament's Local Area Development Plan (MPLADS) for a period of two years in the wake of the pandemic.

As I am sure you will agree, by design, MPLADS has traditionally been used to address and remedy gaps in our governance initiatives that state and central government may have overlooked in their announcements of major development projects, he said. Tharoor in his letter

By eliminating the resources at your disposal (PM) for critical interventions and bringing them under the umbrella of the Indian Consolidated Fund, you would centralize the allocation of funds, which in turn could lead to significant delays in the return of funds. MPLADS retained the sense of direct responsibility for the well-being of constituents which is a hallmark of the work of Indian deputies, he said.

The money will now be allocated by the Center and will follow New Delhi's priorities and preferences, rather than reflecting 543 sets of local needs, said the deputy from Thiruvananthapuram.

The government move will also raise other questions regarding allocation, he said.

For example, despite being one of the worst affected regions, my state of Kerala has so far only received Rs 157 million from the first part of the Center's participation in the State Disaster Response Mitigation Fund, while others Less-affected states have received a larger portion of the first tranche of the Center, he said.

Tharoor said he agrees with the Prime Minister on the need for additional resources in the national campaign against.

However, he said, he would urge him to reconsider the decision to suspend MPLADS funds, as it has demonstrable potential to be deployed as an effective complement to initiatives being made by central and state governments.

Alternatively, the government could use its authority to direct the MPLADS to target Covid-19 related initiatives and could issue a new set of guidelines to allow the same, he said.

There are no political differences in the fight to address the impact of this epidemic, but at the same time, it must also be ensured that all branches of the country's government structure are equipped in their own way to intervene and offer aid to the people. In these difficult times, Tharoor said.

The Cabinet approved on Monday the temporary suspension of the MPLADS funding scheme during 2020-21 and 2021-22, and the funds will be used to manage health services and the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

The Union cabinet also passed an ordinance to reduce the wages, allowances and pensions of members of Parliament (MPs) by 30 percent for one year and the amount will be used in the fight against the coronavirus.

The President, the Vice President, the state governors have also voluntarily decided to take a cut in wages as a social responsibility.