TOILET BLOCKS and civic drainage works constitute the largest expenditure by almost all six of Mumbai’s Lok Sabha representatives from their MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds. While over Rs 15 crore was released under the MPLAD scheme for each of the six MPs, barring Mumbai South MP Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena, the remaining spent the largest chunk of their funds on construction of toilets or drainage networks, or both, in their constituencies.
Mumbai North MP Gopal Shetty (BJP) spent Rs 8.2 crore on toilets and Rs 1.5 crore on drains, Mumbai North-West MP Gajanan Kirtikar (Sena) spent Rs 10.1 crore on drains and Rs 5.4 crore on toilets, Mumbai North-East MP Kirit Somaiya (BJP) spent Rs 12.9 crore on toilets and Rs 40 lakh on drains, Mumbai North-Central MP Poonam Mahajan (BJP) spent Rs 7.9 crore on drains and Rs 6 crore on toilets while Mumbai South-Central MP Rahul Shewale (Sena) spent Rs 8.3 crore on drains and Rs 1.5 crore on toilets. Click here for more election news
The analysis is part of the Informed Voter Project ‘report card’ prepared by non-partisan civil society advocacy group Mumbai Votes. “The idea of the report card is to offer increased accountability and transparency in view of the fact that citizens don’t have many avenues to know what MPs want to do for them before an election and, post-election, in terms of understanding their performance on an everyday basis. This is a way for people to know what their elected representatives are up to, in a neutral presentation by a non-partisan civil society effort,” said Avinay Unmesh-Sanyogita of Mumbai Votes.
That drainage work and construction of toilet blocks appear overwhelmingly popular choices for all six MPs in planning the use of their MPLAD funds is on the one hand symptomatic of the state of basic civic infrastructure in Mumbai while on the other hand, these are also just low-hanging fruit for MPs, structures where signboards bearing the elected representative’s name can be erected.
On many other counts too, the six MPs have fared uniformly – most have spent well over 80 per cent of their MPLAD funds; barring Kirtikar and Mahajan, who is also the national president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the remaining have over 94 per cent attendance in Lok Sabha; and five of the six MPs, barring Mahajan, have above the overall Lok Sabha average of participation in debates.
Shetty proposed the most number of private members’ bills at 28, followed by Mahajan at nine. Shetty’s proposed bills included seven on law and justice, three on home affairs, two on power, two on labour and two on housing and urban affairs. Mahajan’s proposed bills included three on women and child development, two on social justice, two on law and judiciary, one on human resource development and one on environment.
The questions put forth in Parliament by the six MPs pertain largely to the Railways, finance and security or home affairs. Shetty had 18 queries on the Railways, Kirtikar 57, Somaiya 54, Shewale 65 and Sawant 32 queries on the Railways.
None of the six, however, responded to a questionnaire from Mumbai Votes regarding whether they had delivered on promises made during the election campaign. “That was disappointing, especially because when we did a one-year report card in 2015, three MPs, Kirtikar, Somaiya and Sawant, had responded,” said Unmesh-Sanyogita.
He added that it’s difficult to do justice to a report card this way because researchers then relied on their own research to know the status of various promises made. “In some cases, we could find proof — an MP was reported to have met the CM about an issue, or there was a report of a project completed, but largely it could not be known what was the exact status of various poll promises.”
The Informed Voter Project report will be available next week on http://www.MumbaiVotes.com.