Within days of clearing a three-fold hike in salaries of MPs, the government on Cabinet agreed to raise allowances of MPs by another R10,000 to buy peace with political leaders protesting their meagre salaries.
MPs led by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad had led protests in Parliament last week, demanding that members get at least a rupee more than the basic salary of R80,000 that secretary-level officers at the Centre earn.
Prasad had dubbed the R50,000 salary — up from R16,000 last fixed in 2006 — an “insult”. At their meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, they settled for an increase by R10,000 to their constituency and office allowances.
In addition to their R50,000 salary, the MPs will be entitled to a monthly constituency and office allowance of R90,000.
Monday’s hike pushes the money spent on salary and allowances of each MP to R1.55 lakh, up from the R56,000-odd so far. They are expected to vote their salary hikes in the ongoing monsoon session. Since the salary hike comes into effect from last June, they are likely to get arrears of R4 lakh each on account of their salary hike.
This was the third time this month the cabinet took up the issue. A decision was deferred at its first meeting when some ministers opposed the move saying it was not “appropriate” to raise their salary when people were reeling under inflation. A minister pointed out that when salaries of senior bureaucrats and judges could go up by 300 per cent, it was unfair to create a fuss for the political class.