Hours after the union cabinet approved a three-fold hike in salaries of Members of Parliament (MPs), MPs other than those from the Congress, BJP and the Left got the Lok Sabha repeatedly adjourned demanding a salary not less than that of a secretary to the government of India.
The bill concerned is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Saturday.
A secretary in the government gets R80,000 a month. The three-fold hike for MPs leaves them well short of that — at R50,000, up from R16,000 a month.
Added to this are constituency and office allowances, which have been doubled to R40,000 each a month. In all, a MP would get around R1.45 lakh per month including salary and allowances (see graphic), once Parliament approves the changes.
The money is less than what MPs get in a month in countries such as Singapore, US, Canada and in the European Parliament, whose per capita income is 12-20 times higher than India.
In Singapore, an MP gets R6.18 lakh a month (converted into Indian currency).
“This salary (R50,000) is an insult to Parliament,” said Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)chief Lalu Prasad in the House, contending the government had rejected the recommendations of its own committee.
Soon after the Lok Sabha started business, MPs led by Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and Prasad were on their feet rejecting the cabinet decision and demanding a minimum salary of R80,001.
Amid the pandemonium, the Lok Sabha approved amendments in two laws without any discussion.
The cabinet had decided to defer the issue on Monday when ministers Ambika Soni and Vyalar Ravi said it would not be “appropriate” to raise the salary of MPs when people were reeling under high inflation, but intense pressure from non-BJP, non-Left MPs, including some from Congress, forced the government to approve the salary hike. The last increase in MPs’ salaries was in 2006 when it went up from R4,000 to R16,000 a month.
According to information provided by MPs during 2009 elections, the average assets of a Lok Sabha MP is R4.5 crore, excluding those whose assets are more than R100 crore.
“The demand for such a huge salary hike is not justified,” said Anil Bairwal, national coordinator of Association for Democratic Reforms.