Once again the government has announced a scheme scandalous in intent to distort an already tattered Constitution. The Finance Minister has decided to hike the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) by 150 percent to make available Rs 5 crore to every MP in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for expenditure on development in each constituency. Rajya Sabha MPs can adopt any constituency of their choice! The scheme was ill conceived in the first place. The latest hike is a thinly disguised advantage given to sitting Lok Sabha MPs to better their electoral prospects. It passes comprehension why MPs should be given the discretion to spend development money in their respective constituencies. It makes mockery of our federal democracy and distorts the role of an MP.
MPs are expected to deal with national affairs. They represent the opinion of their constituents on every national issue. For local affairs there are generally around half a dozen MLAs of the state assembly catering to the immediate needs of their constituents. Below them are local councilors attending to the requirements of issues even more local. Why should not development funds be entrusted to the MLAs and local councilors?
Taking into consideration how our democratic system has in fact evolved and recognizing the role of an MP as has come to be adopted by the general public, if developmental resources are to be sanctioned for each constituency there is a more rational way of going about it. Each parliamentary constituency should have a parliamentary assembly in which all the MLAs might be members with voting rights. The MP may preside over the assembly but the decisions related to the expenditure of the developmental fund made available by the government should rest on the majority view. In similar fashion each MLA constituency could have its own assembly in which all the local councilors would be members arriving at decisions through a democratic vote.
In this manner the present conception of an MP’s role, even though distorted from the original intent of the Constitution, would be tempered by an appropriate federal mechanism that would ensure better utilization of developmental funds. This scribe had proposed this scheme to the Constitution Review Commission appointed some years ago. Alas, nothing came of it because that Commission huffed like an elephant to produce a mouse!