Andhra CM showers goodies on MLAs

It is raining goodies for legislators in Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, whose government is surviving on a wafer-thin majority, has created a special discretionary fund of Rs 600 crore for the MLAs to meet the urgent development requirements in their constituencies.

However, the move is seen by the opposition parties as a “clear inducement” to keep the legislators in “good humour”. “The CM discretionary fund is a euphemism for backdoor allocation of funds to favoured legislators in the name of development,” an opposition TDP legislator Revanth Reddy said.

The discretionary fund allows the chief minister to allocate funds to any MLA of his choice for any kind of scheme with no upper limit. This is in addition to the ongoing MLAs’ Constituency Development Fund (CDF), for which Rs 395 core has been earmarked for 2012-13. In effect, a total of Rs 995 crore per annum would be at the legislators’ disposal to be utilised for the development of their constituencies.

The Kiran Reddy government had recently managed to survive a no-confidence motion with a slender margin and the threat of desertions to the YSR Congress Party, headed by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, looms large over the ruling party camp.

Thanks to the political instability and continued uncertainty over the Telangana statehood issue, these legislators appear to be a pampered lot these days. Recently, they were showered with benefits like hefty hike in salaries and allowances, swanky SUVs and special discretionary quotas in sanctioning housing schemes and local jobs.

There are allegations that the Reddy has set up this fund to keep his MLAs together, particularly in the backdrop of 17 legislators, owing allegiance to Jagan, defying the party’s whip and voting against the government during the no-confidence motion on December 25 last year.

The CDF was introduced during the TDP rule in 1995 when N Chandrababu Naidu was the chief minister. Under the scheme, each MLA was given Rs 25 lakh per year for development works in his/ her constituency. Subsequently, Naidu disbanded the scheme after he came back to power in 1999 following allegations of its misuse.

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