The Temple of Indian Democracy where:God is forgotten but priests prosper INDIAN POLITICAL CULTURE HAS fallen so low that both the Opposition and the ruling party resort to vilification, abuse and personal attacks. The opposition stalls pro-people, good, bills. And yet all parties are unanimous on one topic: Their MPs and MLAs should get higher salaries and more perks.
In September 2015, The Hindu daily, quoting official sources, wrote: “India paid Rs.176 crore to its 543 Lok Sabha members in salaries and expenses over the last year, or just over Rs. 2.7 lakh a month per Member of Parliament.” It must be more now. Some perks cannot be quantified.
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs get Rs.50,000 as salary, Rs.45,000 as constituency allowance, Rs.15,000 as office expenses and Rs.30,000 for secretarial assistance every month. When Parliament is in session, they get a daily allowance of Rs.2,000 a day just for signing the register even if they do not sit in the House for even a few minutes and their contribution to debates or questions is nil (more onkthis later).
They are reimbursed for 34 flight trips and get unlimited rail and road travel per year, along with a companion, on “official business.” When a High Court Chief Justice wanted to go abroad at taxpayers’ expence to a place where his son was studying, for ‘treatment in a hospital there’, why can’t MPs visit relatives for ‘official work’?
Under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) each member could recommend to the concerned District Authority developmental works to the tune of Rs 2 Crores a year. Guess who gets the contracts?
Travel reimbursements and daily allowances account for the biggest chunk of public spending on Indian MPs, or nearly half of all expenses, at Rs 83 crore for the year, the data shows (Numbers rounded off). Besides their salaries, several crores on spent on Parliament sessikons which transact no business at all. Dharnas and pandemonium are the new normal.
Ever wondered what is socialism? Samajwadi (Socialist Party) leader Ramgopal Yadav says: “Increase our salary and make it more than Cabinet Secretary’s.” After all, they have to fight for the poor who, after a day’s hard labour cannot get two meals or a proper house, and farmers driven by debts to suicide. That is socialism in India!
Rajya Sabha members on August 12 last once again raised the demand for increasing their salaries and questioned the government’s silence on the recommendations of a Parliamentary committee to hike the MPs’ salaries. It had suggested that the monthly salary be raised from Rs. 50,000 to a lakh and constituency allowance from Rs. 45,000 to 90,000, raising the total compensation from Rs.1,40,000 to 2,80,000.
The committee is headed by the BJP’s Yogi Adityanath (a ‘sanyaasi’ in saffron robe, who has renounced all worldly things) It has also recommended a 75 per cent rise in pensions, and an automatic revision in salaries periodically. MPs’ salaries were last hiked six years ago. Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said: “Inflation affects everyone; MPs are also hit.”
And all this is official, legitimate. No one can prove that MPs indulge in corruption. Those who took money for asking questions or for supporting P.V.Narasimha Rao’s minority government are a minority, Others should not be equated with them. Still you wonder how their wealth multiplies many-fold after getting elected or how thay spend several crores to get elected.
A Socialist Party leader was below povery level (BPL) but in a decade declared wealth in crores. No, they don’t have undeclared wealth. One party boss is known to have taken crores for allotting the party ticket. They paid only for a chance to serve the poor, not make illegal money.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat releases information on the amount claimed by and paid to each MP every month. Even newspapers in the MP’s constituency don’t antagonise them by publishing it.
And this is not all. These politicians get lifetime pension even for one tenure of while government servants have to serve a minimum of 20 years. No one can explain why young men and women who serve in the military for 20 years or more, risking their lives to protect us, get only 50% of their pay on retirement. Short Service Commissioned Officers who take same risks for five to 14 years get ZERO retirement benefits after their assignment.
“Politicians who hold their political positions in the safe confines of the capital, protected by these very same men and women, receive full-pay for life on retirement after just one term of five years. Does it make any sense ?” asks a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which went viral soon after he assumed office.
“PM SIR, CHANGE THIS RULE AND THE NATION SHALL BE GRATEFUL TO YOU FOREVER…” the petition, which must have come to you again and again, said. “Abolish, politicians’ pension for life,” it urged, adding: “Just like you motivated common people to give up cooking gas subsidy, motivate MPs to give up numerous undeserving exorbitant perks and subsidies” including pension, which they granted themselves unanimously.
The demand for higher salaries for MPs is justified on the grounds that being poor should not tempt them to be corrupt. I remember the great MP Hari Vishnu Kamath of Hoshangabad (MP) coming to me in a cycle-rickshaw or meeting me in a relative’s house (not five star hotel) every time he came to my town and humble Vavilala Gopalakrishnayya, MLA, walking to offices in hot Guntur (AP) with a bagful of people’s petitions hanging from his shoulder.
In pre-Emergency Palriament I watched Bhupen Gupta, Hiren Mukherjee, Nath Pai, former coolike Hukumchand Karchawi, many more…They never were rich. And yet even their worst critics could not say they were corrupt.
Has a single MP voluntarily given up any of these subsidies, perks and pay? Or at least the millionaire super-rich ones who declared property of several crores?