Arguing for a hike in salaries in July, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs had said that managing expenditures within the salaries and allowances they get was impossible.
For a few MLAs, who had left good jobs in MNCs, the jolt was bigger. Adarsh Shastri, MLA from Dwarka, quit his job as the head of the South Asia sales unit at Apple after joining the party. Shastri, who is heading the AAP government’s team that looks into providing free wifi in the city, commanded a package of Rs 1.25 crores per annum at the time he quit.
“It is very important to appreciate the challenges that an MLA has to face each day. I welcome anyone to come live my life and see if they can manage in the amount that we currently get. AAP was formed to further honest politics and this needs an honest understanding of the conditions we operate in,” Shastri said.
Calling himself the CEO of his constituency, Shastri said that he never received calls at 2 am in his previous job.
“I help make people’s lives better or worse and it is an onerous responsibility. This is the most high-pressure job I have ever had.”
A number of people doing regular jobs joined the party in 2012 and 2013. Many of them were elected last year and left their jobs. Saurabh Bhardwaj, the party’s spokesperson, was a project manager with a US based fortune 500 company before joining the party. He was earning an annual salary of Rs 17 lakh when he quit.
“If the three BJP MLAs prove they are running their household in Rs 12,000 (the salary component), I will resign. I welcome anyone to come and stay with me for three days and see what the expenditures are. We end up spending more than the allocated amount on travel, data entry operators and administrative expenses. Rs 12,000 is the real salary component and you can’t run a household in this much,” said Bhardwaj, who also called for a debate on whether the salary component should be hiked to Rs 50,000 from Rs 12,000.