While Amritsar MP G S Aujla is among the four MPs from Punjab to get the highest amount of Rs 22.5 crore out of the entitlement of Rs 25 crore under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund from 2014 till August 1 this year, the Congress MP also allocated money from his MPLAD quota to Chandigarh Golf Club to buy four golf carts. While the guidelines for utilisation of MPLAD funds outside one’s constituency state that the MP can recommend allocation of up to Rs 25 lakh per financial year to promote national unity, harmony and fraternity among the people at grassroots level provided the contribution would not be allowed for trusts, societies and cooperative societies, Aujla’s allocation has been in violation of the guidelines.
The four golf carts were given to the club in March this year at a cost close to Rs 20 lakh with each cart costing Rs 5 lakh in the market. “I allocated funds outside my constituency as I felt that Chandigarh Golf Club has given players like Jeev Milkha Singh and Shubhankar Sharma to the country and more than 50 per cent of its members are ex-servicemen.
Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore too is a member of the governing committee and the golf club also teaches more than 100 kids from a poor background. I have spent more than Rs 8 crore on things like ambulances, building hospitals, wheelchairs and solar panels in Amritsar. I allocated the money for equipment, maintenance and other works at the club and it was the discretion of Chandigarh Deputy Commissioner to see how to utilise the funds,” said Aujla from Delhi.
The four golf carts, manufactured by a global battery-operated and bike company, are one of the 10 such carts currently being used by CGC especially members and senior citizens after paying for the usage. The carts were given in March this year under the tenure of former CGC president Ravibir Grewal and the club also sees the presence of more than 100 personal golf carts of its members on the 7,202-yard-long course.
“The golf carts were given after completing all the necessary requirements under the MPLAD scheme and anybody is welcome to contribute to promote the sport,” said Grewal. The last two months have also seen the golf club spending close to Rs 4 lakh on the maintenance shed for the carts.
“The decision to take the golf carts was taken by the previous committee. Currently, we have 10 golf carts of the club, including the four given by Amritsar MP GS Aujla and these golf carts are given for the use of senior citizens at concessional rates. The Chandigarh Golf Club has a huge expenditure on the maintenance of carts and the cost is undertaken by the club. Recently, we spent Rs 4 lakh on upgrading the maintenance hut,” said CGC President B S Gill. He added, “As far as I know, G S Aujla is not a member of the club.”
Lt Col (Retd) J S Panag, who contested last year’s elections against Grewal, termed the allocation of MPLAD funds as a wrong practice. “There is vested interest involved in this matter. Some members had pointed this out at the general body meeting. If the MP wanted to promote golf, he could have given the equipment to the Army Golf Course in Amritsar.
A lot of army golfers and ex-servicemen play golf there and the money could have been used to promote the sport in his constituency. Politicians should not interfere or indulge in any kind of politics at the Chandigarh Golf Club and I also raised this point when I contested the club elections last year,” said Panag.