By Mumtaz Alam,India Tomorrow,New Delhi
By 13 February 2014, Rs 292.97 crores of the Members of Parliament fund were lying unspent in 70 Lok Sabha constituencies of significant Muslim population across the country. While Congress MPs of these constituencies still have over Rs 92 crores unspent the MPs of BJP come at No. 2 with the unspent Rs 79 crores.
Nishakant Dubey (Godda, Jharkhand) and Shafeequr Rahman Barq (Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh) top the list of best performers by spending almost all the funds available to them.
Kirti Azad (Darbhanga, Bihar) is the worst performer as he still has Rs 7.43 crores unspent amount, which is less than 40% of the funds available to him. Devidhan Besra (Rajmahal, Jharkhand) and Badruddin Ajmal (Dhubri, Assam) have left more than 50% of the available funds unused. While Besra has Rs 6.74 crores unspent amount Ajmal has Rs 6.65 crores, reveals a report prepared by TwoCircles.net, India’s most popular Muslim-focused news website.
According to the report, which is based on data available on government websites, Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha have not fully utilized the Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds.
Shafeequr Rahman Barq (Sambhal, UP) tops the list of Muslim MPs by spending almost all of 12 Crore at his disposal. There are 16 Muslim MPs who have unspent amounts between 4 and 7 crores. Badruddin Ajmal (Dhubri, AS) tops the list with 6.65 crores unspent.
Muslim population ranges from 20 to 95 per cent in the 70 Lok Sabha constituencies covered in the report.
Also noticeable is the fact that MPs of backward region are also the worst offender in leaving large amount unspent. Bihar and Assam MPs have left behind almost 30% of their funds unutilized. While West Bengal MPs have Rs 68.63 crores unspent Uttar Pradesh MPs have Rs 68.16 crores and Bihar comes at No. 3 with Rs 47.08 crores unspent amount.
If we look at the numbers by political parties then we find that 40 out of these 70 constituencies are represented by either Congress or BJP MPs. Congress MPs have slightly better utilization of funds (24.8% unspent) than BJP MPs (28.5%).
AIUDF has left behind 56.8% of their funds unspent. Even the two Independent MPs [Tarun Mandal – Joynagar (WB)] and [Hassan Khan – Ladakh (JK)] have not impressed their constituencies as they have utilized MPLAD funds less than 60 % and 70 % respectively.
Following MPs have utilized more than 90% of MPLAD funds in their constituencies:
1. Nishikant Dubey (BJP)- Godda (JH)
2. Shafiqur Raheman Barq (BSP) – Sambhal (UP)
3. Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) – Hyderabad (AP)
4. Jay Prakash Agarwal (INC) – Delhi NE
5. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh (SP) – Kaiserganj (UP)
The unused MPLAD funds are meant for the MPs to undertake several development projects which will lapse with the 15th term of Lok Sabha concluding in May 2014.
“Merely having Muslim figureheads in elected offices is not a solution to the wide range of problems the community is facing. The current Uttar Pradesh assembly has the highest Muslim representation ever but the state has witnessed the highest number of communal riots and illegal detentions,” says Kashif-ul-Huda, Editor, TwoCircles.net.
“The responsibility of the voter does not end at the ballot box. Each of us needs to hold our elected representative and the party leadership accountable for the promises made before the elections, and for their contribution to justice, security, development and effective governance that is expected of every elected official,” says Kashif.
Performance on floor of the House
Besides analysing the utilization of MPLAD funds, his report also assesses the performance of Muslim MPs on the floor of the house in terms of raising questions and participating in the debate.
According to the report, Minority Affairs comes at 14th number in priority for all MPs when all questions asked to ministries by all MPs is observed. MPs have given more priority to Environment & Forest, Civil Aviation, Commerce & industry, Railways, Agriculture, Consumer Affairs Food & Distribution, Road Transport, Petroleum Natural Gas, Finance, Health & Family, HRD, External Affairs and Home Affairs.
Of all the Muslim MPs, Shafiqur Rahman Barq (344/350) has highest attendance while Asaduddin Owaisi with 1046 questions tops the list in asking most number of questions in Lok Sabha. Saidul Haque of CPI (M) has participated in record 95 debates followed by Salman Khurshid with 60 debates.
Despite being present in Lok Sabha at least half the time, these MPs viz. Zafar Ali Naqvi (280), Tabassum Hasan (252), Kadir Rana (202), Ismail Hussain (329) and Abdul Mannan Hussain (212) have acted as a silent observer in all the 15 sessions of Lok Sabha and have never participated in any of the debates.
Abdul Mannan Hossain, Ismail Hussain, and Kabir Suman have never asked any questions. Only one Muslim MP Md Hamdullah Saeed of Lakshwadeep has dared to ask questions (2) to the Prime Minister.
Although Syed Shahnawaz Hussain asked 642 questions in the Lok Sabha but he has asked only 3 questions to Minority affairs (less than 0.5 % of total Qs raised by him). His focused towards Home Affairs (50), HRD (48) and Finance (42).
“All civil society institutions, regardless of their ethnic or religious make-up need to question those holding positions of influence and power about their role in curbing communal violence and in working for the fraternity of all Indians that the Constitution of India directs us to,” urges Kashif.