Sangma wants the scheme scrapped

Sushanta Talukdar

GUWAHATI: Former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma on Wednesday demanded that the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) be scrapped and insisted that the MPs should not be dragged into implementation of any such development scheme.

Mr. Sangma said that as Union Minister, he had opposed the MPLADS when it was mooted in 1993 for he felt that the MPs should not be dragged into implementation of any work which was normally done by municipal bodies or panchayats.

"Really a shame"

He said that both Parliament and the law should take action against the guilty MPs. "It is really a shame. I personally feel ashamed," he said, when asked to comment on the recent TV expose of MPs allegedly taking bribe for asking questions and for the MPLAD scheme.

Mr. Sangma said that he had directed the Government in his capacity as the then Lok Sabha Speaker to discontinue the scheme of allotment of coupons to MPs for gas and telephone connection. "I asked the CBI to probe the allegations of misuse of these coupons. The CBI had given a preliminary report to me in which it found that some MPs had misused the coupons. I had then immediately directed from the Chair to discontinue the scheme," he said.

Hails sting operations

The NCP leader, though backing the media in their `sting' operations, urged a balance between the right to information and right to privacy. There was nothing wrong in the operations against the MPs as, he said, they were aimed at exposing corruption.

Mr. Sangma, who arrived here a day after his formal return to the NCP, announced the formation of a new State unit of the party to be headed by former MP Prabin Sarma as president. The outgoing president and 92-year-old former Assam Chief Minister, Sarat Chandra Sinha, was relieved of the post on health grounds at his request, but was nominated to the Central Working Committee, Mr. Sangma said.

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