Aam Aadmi MLAs want a four-fold hike, but do they deserve it?editorials Updated: Feb 18, 2017 18:29 IST
Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia has argued that a salary hike for the state’s MLAs will encourage probity in public life. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
The Aam Aadmi Party is at loggerheads with the Centre again and this time the bone of contention is the compensation package of its legislators. For the second time, the Union home ministry has turned down a bill passed by the Delhi Assembly seeking to raise the emoluments package of Delhi’s MLAs from Rs 88,000 to Rs 2.1 lakh. Since Delhi is a Union Territory with a legislative assembly, bills with financial implications have to be cleared by the Centre. Supporters of a 400% hikes for the legislators argue that higher emoluments for legislators would lead to greater probity in public life and thereby less corruption. No one grudges a salary hike for our lawmakers. But it has to be commensurate with performance. If those who elected them to office get their remuneration based on the work they do, why should the MLAs be any different?
There is a constant clamour for higher salaries and better perks even among our Parliamentarians. Last year, a parliamentary panel recommended a 100% hike for our parliamentarians. Apart from basic pay, Indian MPs get an array of perquisites including fuel allowance, diesel allowance, constituency allowance and allowance to pay their secretarial staff. That is not the case in many other countries, including in British democracy on which ours is modelled. In Britain, MPs often use public transport and do not get the security detail and cavalcades that many of our elected representatives are used to.
Apart from Rs 45,000 as basic salary, the compensation for an MP includes Rs 45,000 as constituency allowance, Rs 30,000 to pay the staff and Rs 15,000 for stationary! Plus, he or she gets Rs 2,000 per day just to attend parliament. Other entitlements include rent-free accommodation in the capital, 1.50 lakh free phone calls a year, and 4,000 kilolitres of water and 50,000 units of electricity per annum. Many politicians in the Capital get plush accommodation in the heart of Lutyens Delhi. With the economy still recovering from the after-effects of a note ban, the demand for a 400% hike needs a strong justification. It is true that they have to spend money on their constituents many of whom come to them with demands and grievances. But that is what they signed up for. While constantly demanding salary hikes, many of our MPs and MLAs seem to forget that they even get several benefits well after they demit office, unlike in other professions.