BJP MPs in Karnataka draw flak for PM CARES contribution

Bharatiya Janata Party MPs from the State have drawn criticism on social media and from the Opposition as most of them have allotted ₹1 crore from their Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds, which are meant for development works in their constituencies, to PM CARES, a relief fund floated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many have argued that instead, the MPs should have taken up relief measures in their districts or contributed to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah on Thursday termed the move a betrayal of the people of their own constituencies. “It is more responsible to use MPLADS funds, through Deputy Commissioners, to take measures in their constituencies,” he tweeted.

The Congress leader said in another tweet, “The Central government has already betrayed Karnataka in the devolution of taxes through 15th Finance Commission and also in the distribution of disaster relief funds. Now, BJP MPs want us to beg again in front of Narendra Modi for COVID-19 relief, which otherwise can be directly spent in Karnataka.”

Mr. Siddaramaiah’s tweets come days after Kannada activists took up a campaign on Twitter. “The pandemic cannot be fought from Delhi; it has to be fought from the States and districts. It makes no sense for our MPs to allocate MPLADS funds for the disposal of the Prime Minister. It re-centralises financial resources and decision-making,” said Arun Javgal, an activist from Banavasi Balaga.

However, the BJP MPs have had little choice in the matter. The party’s national president, J.P. Nadda, tweeted on March 28 that all BJP MPs would release ₹1 crore from their MPLADS funds and all BJP MPs and MLAs would give a month’s remuneration to the fund. Before this, the Union government gave a one-time exemption to use MPLADS money for relief funds, which is prohibited otherwise.

‘MPs unhappy’

A senior party leader, on the condition of anonymity, said many MPs were unhappy with the directive from the party president, as it left them little elbow room to lead relief efforts in their constituencies. While several Ministers, BJP MPs and MLAs in the State are seen enthusiastically promoting PM CARES on their Twitter pages, very few have appealed for funds for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Harish Narasappa, co-founder of DAKSH, an NGO that works on accountability and better governance, said, “This only ensures there is no local leadership in the fight against COVID-19.”

However, P.C. Mohan, a three-time BJP MP from Bengaluru (Central), defended the move. “When the entire country was facing a crisis, it was immaterial where they pitched in from. The funds will be used to help the people of the country anyway.”

He also pointed out that he was the first MP to make a contribution of ₹2 crore from MPLADS funds to the CM’s Relief Fund. Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar has made an allocation of ₹2 crore while Mandya MP Sumalatha has allocated ₹50 lakh towards equipping medical facilities in Bengaluru and Mandya, respectively.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 2:01:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bjp-mps-in-karnataka-draw-flak-for-pm-cares-contribution/article31252141.ece

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