Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Roles & Responsibilities of an MP

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By VK Lyngdoh

In the article “The election that was and wasn’t” by Albert Thyrniang (ST April 25, 2024) he mentioned that “Robertjune Kharjahrin offered to set up a monitoring body or MP Schemes and the proposal found no takers.” He further stated, “After all the parties and candidates had their say, the public has still not understood the role of a Member of Parliament (MP).” I felt it important to explain the role and responsibilities of the MP in the Lok Sabha and the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
Being an MP in India comes with several privileges and responsibilities. MPs actively participate in formulation and amendment of laws. They can propose bills, discuss them in Parliament, and contribute to shaping the legal framework of the country. MPs represent their constituencies in the Lok Sabha (House of the People). They voice concerns, aspirations, and needs of their constituents during parliamentary debates and discussions. MPs receive a salary, allowances, and other perks. The salary is subject to revision from time to time. Additionally, they have access to various allowances for travel, accommodation, and office expenses.
After serving a certain number of terms, MPs are eligible for pension. This ensures financial security after retirement. While performing their duties, MPs enjoy parliamentary immunity. This means they cannot be held legally accountable for their statements or actions within Parliament. MPs have access to government information, data, and reports. This keeps them informed about various issues affecting the nation. An MP can allocate funds from MPLADS which directly contributes to local development. Serving as an MP provides opportunities to network with other politicians, bureaucrats, and influential individuals. This enhances their influence and impact. MPs can use their position to advocate for specific causes, raise awareness, and drive positive change. They can champion issues related to education, healthcare, infrastructure and more. Being an MP brings social recognition and prestige. It is a position of authority and respect within the community but they also have significant responsibilities towards their constituents and the nation. They are accountable for their actions and decisions during their tenure in office.
The responsibilities of an MP are multifaceted. He/she actively engages in parliamentary debates on proposed bills, amendments, and other legislative matters. MPs vote on various issues, including budgetary allocations, constitutional amendments, and policy decisions. He/she represents the interests, concerns, and aspirations of the constituents in Lok Sabha. They advocate for policies and projects that benefit their constituencies. MPs scrutinize the functioning of the government, ensuring transparency and accountability. They can question ministers during Question Hour, seeking clarifications on government actions. They work to improve infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other essential services in their constituencies. MPs serve on various Committees, such as, Standing Committee, Select Committees to examine bills, policies, and administrative matters. They raise awareness about social issues, promote public welfare, and address community concerns. They interact with constituents, attend public meetings, and address grievances, participate in budget discussions, ensuring that public funds are allocated appropriately. They scrutinize government spending and financial decisions. MPs contribute to policy formulation by suggesting reforms, improvements, and innovative solutions and discuss critical national issues affecting citizens. MPs engage in international forums, representing India’s interests and building diplomatic ties. As far as constitutional duties are concerned, MPs participate in the electoral process in electing the President and Vice President of India. In rare cases, MPs play a role in impeachment proceedings against constitutional functionaries. MPs must balance their duties to the nation, their party, and their constituents while upholding democratic values and principles.
The MPLADS formulated by the Government of India in December 1993, empowers MPs to ‘recommend developmental work’ in their constituencies. The focus is on “creating durable community assets” based on locally identified needs.
Initially, the MPLADS was administered by the Ministry of Rural Development. However, since October 1994 the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has overseen its functioning. Elected Members of Rajya Sabha representing an entire state can select works for implementation in one or more districts of their choice. Similarly, nominated Members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha can also recommend works in any district across the country. MPs can recommend work up to Rs 25 lakh per year outside their constituency or state of election to promote national unity, harmony, and fraternity. Additionally, they can recommend funds for natural calamities up to Rs 25 lakhs within the state and up to Rs 1 crore nationally for severe calamities like tsunamis, major cyclones, and earthquakes. A State-level nodal department is chosen to supervise and monitor the scheme. This department coordinates with line departments and ensures effective implementation.
In implementation the district suthorities play a crucial role. They sanction the works recommended by the MP and identify implementation agencies and user agencies. They oversee work on the ground, transfer assets to user agencies, and report back to the Ministry on the MPLADS status in the district. District Authorities are responsible for overall coordination and supervision of MPLADs projects at the district level. They inspect at least 10 percent of the work under implementation annually and involve MPs in project inspections where feasible. Since 2011-12 each MP is allocated Rs 5 crore per year, a significant increase from the initial allocation of Rs 5 lakhs in 1993-94 and Rs 2 crore in 1998-99. Funds are disbursed by the concerned Ministry; not directly to MPs. These funds are non-lapsable, meaning unutilized funds carry forward to the next year. MPs must allocate at least 15% of their funds for assets in areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste (SCs) and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes (STs). Convergence with other schemes, such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the National Program for Development of Sports (Khelo India), is encouraged to create more durable assets.
Hence the MPLADS enables MPs to contribute to local development by recommending projects that address community needs and create lasting assets.There are specific restrictions on the types of projects that can be funded through MPLADS: MPs can recommend works such as infrastructure development, education, healthcare, sanitation, and other community-oriented projects.
Funding for religious institutions is not permissible under MPLADS. Insofar as NGOs/Trusts/Societies is concerned, the recommending MP or their family members cannot hold office in the organisations receiving MPLADS funding. All infrastructure constructed with MPLADS funds becomes the property of the State/Union Territory Government. The beneficiary organisations are responsible for operating and maintaining the assets created. Using MPLADS for political mileage during elections is discouraged.
The MPLADS has a robust monitoring process to ensure effective utilization of funds and proper implementation of projects through the State-level Monitoring Committee which meets regularly with participation from MPs. During these meetings, the progress of MPLADS works is reviewed, and necessary action taken to address any issues.

District authorities and the concerned MP, inspect ongoing works. Inspection registers are maintained to record findings during these inspections. Regular internal audits are conducted to assess the quality and progress of projects. Periodical social audits are carried out to evaluate the impact of MPLADS projects on the local community. These audits help ensure transparency, accountability, and alignment with the scheme’s objectives.

The entire fund flow is monitored in real time on IT platforms. Stakeholders, including MPs, central and state government agencies, and district authorities, can monitor the status of funds and project implementation in real time. This transparency facilitates effective execution of MPLADS projects.

The success of MPLADS depends on diligent monitoring, adherence to guidelines, and active collaboration between MPs, district authorities, and other stakeholders.

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