Suspended Punjab AAP MP tops the chart

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Chandigarh, March 27 (IANS) Punjab’s Fatehgarh Sahib MP Harinder Singh Khalsa has topped among the 13 lawmakers with the fund utilization over the allocated amount as high as 97.23 per cent under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) in the past five years.

According to official figures on fund allocation by the MPs, Khalsa has allocated Rs 22.87 crore, while the unspent balance with the district authorities is Rs 2.45 crore, the second lowest among his contemporaries.

“This is the public fund and we are its custodians. My priority while sanctioning the grants is the local necessity and its utilisation in the past,” Khalsa, a suspended MP of the Aam Aadmi Party, told IANS.

Under the MPLADS, each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for development works to the tune of Rs 5 crore per annum in one’s constituency.

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Despite the optimum sanction of funds, most of the road stretches in interiors of Fatehgarh Sahib (Reserved), once the traditional stronghold of the Congress and Akalis, are full of large potholes and the road is virtually non-existent at a number of places.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Dalit face and Union Minister of State Vijay Sampla, whose chances of getting re-nominated from the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat is not easy owing to his inaccessibility, was second among the MPs whose fund utilization over the allocated amount was 92.24 per cent.

Sampla, who headed the state party till Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik replaced him in 2018, has allocated Rs 21.10 crore in his constituency and the unspent balance with the government is Rs 2.11 crore, the lowest among the MPs.

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Another Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s fund utilization over the allocated amount was 84.43 per cent. The unspent balance with the district authorities is Rs 3.77 crore, the fifth lowest among the lawmakers.

She has allocated Rs 17.75 crore in her Bathinda constituency, the stronghold of the Akalis.

Her husband and Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal is likely to contest the Ferozepur Lok Sabha seat, while she may be in the fray from Bathinda, the constituency she has represented twice.

In the 2014 general elections, then Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Kaur had defeated her brother-in-law Manpreet Badal, who is now the Finance Minister in the state government led by Congress leader Amarinder Singh.

This time Kaur is banking on big Central projects like the AIIMS that she managed to bring to her constituency.

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Sunil Kumar Jakhar of the Congress, who got elected from Gurdaspur in 2017 by-election necessitated with the death of actor Vinod Khanna, has recommended Rs 10.20 crore in his brief stint.

His fund utilization over the allocated amount was 41.72 per cent. The unspent balance with the district authorities is Rs 12.08 crore, the highest among the lawmakers.

Jakhar, the only prominent contender so far from the Congress, is likely to be pitted against Kavita Khanna, widow of Vinod Khanna.

In all, 13 MPs utilized 80.92.83 per cent of the funds released under the MPLADS.

The government released Rs 264.21 crore of the Rs 325 crore from 2014 to 2019 and the expenditure of the district authorities stood at Rs 63.54 crore.

Punjab will vote on May 19.

(Vishal Gulati can be reached at [email protected])

–IANS

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