Special Correspondent

“Allocate LAD funds for nominated members”

They should consult elected legislators while utilising funds: Rangasamy

Shortcomings in utilisation of funds allotted to nominated members can be pointed out: Minister

PUDUCHERRY: Questions such as “who is powerful - an elected legislator or a nominated member?” and “Can the nominated MLAs use the constituency development funds without consulting elected members?” dominated the debate in the Assembly on Tuesday.

What started as a mild breeze during the discussions on five demands - Transport, Education, Fisheries, District Administration and Community Development - assumed serious proportions, necessitating an intervention from the Speaker and the Chief Minister.

Participating in the debate, nominated MLA T. Thiagarajan (Congress) referred to the reported remarks of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the “diversion of funds” earmarked for rehabilitation of the tsunami victims.

At his stage, S.P. Sivakumar (DMK) made some comments. He exchanged some remarks with Mr. Thiagarajan relating to the “power” of elected and nominated members. Suddenly it took an unpleasant turn with the two crossing swords at each other.

Nominated MLA belonging to the Pattali Makkal Katchi N.G. Pannirselvam vociferously supported the allocation of local area development (LAD) funds for the nominated members. Another nominated member N. Kalainathan (Communist Party of India) was not present in the House during the debate.

Intervening, Chief Minister N. Rangasamy said with a view to ensuring that all MLAs were treated with respect, the LAD funds were allotted to the nominated members also.

However, they should consult the elected legislators while utilising the funds in the constituencies. The funds were utilised for the welfare of the people, he said. The remarks should not be allowed to cause bitterness among members, he added.

Minister for Welfare M. Kandasamy said if there were shortcomings in the utilisation of funds allotted to the nominated members, they could be pointed out for remedial measures. It was unfair to comment on their status as legislators, he said, adding that he welcomed all nominated members spending their LAD funds in Bahour, his constituency.

Speaker R.Radhakrishnan said the nominated members should confer with the elected MLAs before taking up projects in any segment to avoid administrative problems such as duplication of work. His views applied to Bahour also, he added. Leader of the Opposition A.M.H. Nazeem also supported the Speaker’s view. Mr. Sivakumar (DMK) asked the nominated members not to infringe on the rights of the elected MLAs, who had been certified as legislators by the Election Commission.

Mr. Thiagarajan said the nominated members were prepared to earmark funds for constituencies if the elected members make requests.

Om Sakthi Sekar (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) was of the view that nominated MLAs could also use the LAD funds to various Assembly segments. Recalling that the AIADMK member had demanded that he should be consulted while appointing temple trustees, the Speaker said in the same way, the nominated MLAs should consult the elected legislators while using the LAD funds.

Leader of the AIADMK A. Anbalagan said his party, predicting such problems, had demanded that women belonging to the Opposition parties should be appointed as nominated members. Mr. Pannirselvam said the nominated MLAs had been utilising the funds for the development of all the 30 Assembly segments.