Afraid of a political backlash in an election year, the government on Tuesday decided not to introduce the Bill to amend the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act 1952 that would have put at par the number of air journeys allowed to ministers and MPs.
The decision reportedly was taken at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s behest. “We would have been attacked if we had gone ahead with the Bill. There would have been a lot of criticism that while the government did not give any sops to people in the interim budget it did not hesitate to enhance facilities for MPs and ministers,’’ said a Union Minister who did not want to be named.
The move would also have backfired in the backdrop of reports that employees in different sectors were being asked to take salary cuts to deal with the downturn in the economy. “With the Lok Sabha elections coming up we could have afforded this risk,’’ said a Congressman.
Home Minister P Chidambaram was supposed to introduce the Bill in the Lok Sabha. But with the government changing its mind on the issue, he wrote to Speaker Somnath Chatterjee informing him of the government’s decision not to bring the bill.
The Bill had been included in the revised list of business for the Lok Sabha for Tuesday.