Vociferously demanding a five-fold salary hike in both houses of Parliament on Tuesday, MPs succeeded in extracting an assurance from the UPA government that it would bring a bill in this regard during the current session.
“The report of the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament has been received by the government. It is under consideration,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Lok Sabha.
“The report will be made effective from beginning of 15th (present) Lok Sabha. Whenever the bill is passed, it will have retrospective effect,” he said.
Earlier, Opposition members, barring BJP and Left, created noisy scenes in both Houses.
The BJP’s reluctance to raise the issue came with senior party leader L.K. Advani’s speech at the party’s parliamentary party meet on Tuesday, where he told MPs that asking for a hike in their own salaries sounded disgraceful. Advani said it should be left to the government to take a call on the matter, but no BJP MP should advocate the cause. He also reportedly said there should be some sort of a pay commission to determine MPs salaries rather than MPs themselves demanding the same.
In Lok Sabha, the issue was raised by RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Citing protocol, he said MPs are asking a salary which was only a Re 1 more than what the Cabinet Secretary gets.
“We are being criticised for seeking hike in salaries by persons who stash away black money in Swiss banks,” Prasad said. The RJD chief found support from Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party and members of SP, BSP, RJD, JD (U), Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress. Several Congress members were also seen standing in support of Prasad’s demand.
Speaker Meira Kumar tried to pacify them but they were in no mood to listen and the House had to adjourned till 2 pm. When it re-assembled, Prasad and other members again created pandemonium. At this juncture, Mukherjee got up to say that a bill would be brought to amend the salaries and allowances in this session itself.
In Rajya Sabha, Rajniti Prasad (RJD) raised and found support from members in the Opposition benches.
‘Devise system to decide salaries’
The CPM on Tuesday said there should be a mechanism to decide on MPs salaries and that MPs themselves should not decide on it.
Party leader Sitaram Yechury said the government had promised to look into the demand of setting up a mechanism in 2006 when the issue was discussed at Rajya Sabha, but had not taken any decision yet. “The CPM has opposed the concept that MPs should decide their salaries. The CPM volunteered and withdrew from the committee of MPs (which recommended hike in salaries to government). We won’t be party to any such decision,” Yechury said. He said several proposals had been put forward for a systemic linkage. He said MPs were the foremost servants of people.