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Na Khaunga Na Khaane Dunga? Despite CIC’s Orders, BJP Minister Refuses To Disclose How He Spent Rs 11 Cr From The MPLADS Fund

"The District Authority has hidden the information by furnishing some numbers, they did not communicate any stage of work, benefits or beneficiaries,” reads the CIC order.

Union cabinet minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Narendra Singh Tomar has refused to disclose the of how he spent Rs 11 crore from the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund, despite receiving directives from the Central Information Commission (CIC), reported Huffington Post.

Every year, under the MPLADS, Rs 5 crore is allotted to MPs to spend on developmental projects in their constituency. Records from Tomar’s Gwalior constituency reveal that the centre released Rs 15 crore to Tomar in three years, from 2014 to 2017.

The district administration approved funding projects worth Rs 13.04 crore. Of these, the records show that Rs 11.16 crore have been spent. But there is no record on where or how the money was spent.

The CIC issued an order to Tomar’s office, asking for details of works recommended by the BJP MP and the progress on their implementation. The order also asked for information on the applications received for funding projects and the basis on which Tomar accepted or rejected the applications.

A report on Tomar’s constituency was submitted by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) to the CIC in May 2018, after which the CIC issued an order stating, “Entire progress report is reduced into some statistics. This report hides more than revealing.”

The order further read, “The District Authority has hidden the information by furnishing some numbers, they did not communicate any stage of work, benefits or beneficiaries. Tomar must disclose the information about the progress and explain the delay besides action taken on stoppage of release by MoSPI and non-utilisation of funds.”

Earlier, in September 2017, Prashant Jain, a social activist filed an RTI at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), asking for the details of public works being carried out in Gwalior. The PMO transferred the query to MoSPI.

In a reply to Jain’s RTI, MoSPI directed him to the “WMS report” on its website. However, according to the information available in this section, only Rs 5 crore spent by Tomar were accounted for.

Jain filed another appeal in October 2017, but again, Tomar revealed no details.

“I received an email from the ministry with a soft copy of a bunch of documents titled ‘gwalior documents’ in a single pdf document,” Jain told Huffington Post. “But when I opened it, I found all documents are about the MPLAD spending of the Dhar district.”

M Sridhar Acharyulu of the CIC said, “Every constituency’s voters should know how the Rs 5 crore was spent. He can proudly claim that I have spent Rs 5 crore in the constituency. In this year, I did this, did that for my own people.”

People indeed have a right to know how their elected representatives are spending public funds. Prime Minister’s rhetoric of “good governance” and campaign slogans like “Na khaunga aur na khan dunga” are mere jumlas if the PM can’t ensure that his own ministers are not misusing public funds.

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