If the Arvind Kejriwal government accepts the recommendations of a panel looking into legislators’ salaries, it could make Delhi MLAs -- most of whom are AAP members -- among the richest in India.
This would be a remarkable outcome for a party that had its origins in a mass movement and that likes to take the high moral ground in most public debates.
The report of the expert’s body submitted to the Delhi Speaker on Tuesday, if implemented, would see Delhi MLAs get a 300% hike in salaries to Rs 50,000 per month— at par with the pay of a Member of Parliament.
Currently, they get paid a measly Rs 12,000.
The proposed basic salary is one of the highest for MLAs in India. While Assam MLAs get the highest basic salary—Rs 60,000 per month—Kerala MLAs get only Rs 1,000 in a month.
And it’s just not the basic salary of a Delhi MLA that will match the parliamentary standard. The panel also proposes a doubling in their daily allowance, again to match the MPs’ rate of Rs 2,000.
The daily allowance is the additional money an elected representative gets for attending sessions of the legislative body or a meeting of its panels.
The panel has proposed Rs 50,000 as constituency allowance and up to Rs 95,000 as office allowance. MPs get Rs 45,000 under each head.
While MPs are elected by a much larger body of voters and they represent far bigger geographical areas, the Delhi MLAs may end up getting bigger financial benefits.
There has been a shift to setting up an independent experts panel to decide legislators salary instead of the assembly setting its own income slabs. In fact, the Centre too, is mulling the idea of setting up a pay commission for MPs to do away with the embarrassing practice of deciding their own salaries by passing bills in Parliament.
But at the end of the day, the Delhi decision will be Arvind Kejriwal’s, based on the speaker’s recommendation, which in turn will draw on advice from the Salary and Allowances Committee of the Delhi Assembly, the lion’s share of which will be AAP MLAs. AAP has 67 members in the 70 member house.
The matter then goes to the Centre for final approval.