Tribune News Service
Shimla, February 11
Tempers ran high as ruling and Opposition members have locked horns over the “misuse” of public money on Jan Manch programmes in the state.
The issue was raised during Question Hour in the Vidhan Sabha today by Congress legislator Nand Lal. He sought details of funds spent on holding of Jan Manch. Virender Kanwar, Minister for Rural Development said so far Rs 1.61 crore had been spent on 95 Jan Manch programmes till January while the expenditure details of 11 more programmes were still awaited.
As Opposition members continued to grill the minister over the misuse of public money, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur provoked them by stating that the manner in which the Congress was getting perturbed, Jan Manch had been able to hit the target. He said the Congress was getting rattled seeing the success of the popular scheme.
Congress legislator Jagat Singh Negi demanded that an audit of the funds being spent on Jan Manch should be held. As Congress legislator Nand Lal stood up to speak, while the CM was speaking, Thakur lost his cool and asked him to sit down. This enraged the Congress legislators, resulting in heated exchanges between the two sides.
The CM and leader of the Opposition too had heated exchanges as Mukesh Agnihotri claimed that there was nothing new in Jan Manch as the Prashasan Janta Ke Dwar programme was serving the same purpose.
“I have attended those functions but this is something very different where people are being given relief on the spot and what is the harm if the same food is given to the public, the CM, ministers and all those who spend the day there,” he replied to constant criticism by the Congress members. He added that the misuse of public money would not be allowed at any cost.
Agnihotri pointed out that if Rs 1.61 crore had been spent on Jan Manch at the constituency level, then much more would be spent on these as the CM had now announced to chair them in every district.
Minister Virender Kanwar said Rs 2-lakh limit had been fixed on a Jan Manch programme and, if need be, this amount could be enhanced.
As per details of Jan Manch furnished by the minister, the highest amount of Rs 4.25 lakh was spent on Jan Manch held at Panjai in Seraj, the CM’s constituency in Mandi district. Besides, Rs 3.05 lakh was spent at Balh in the presence of Industry Minister Bikram Singh, Rs 2.96 lakh at Narag in Pachhad in the presence of Health Minister Vipin Parmar and Rs 2.75 lakh at Dehra in the presence of Kishan Kapoor.