Devender Yadav, the Congress MLA from Badli, may have offered to return his salary but legislators across party lines are in no mood of following suit. They are paid Rs 84,000 per month.
All three parties — BJP, AAP and Congress — believe their MLAs are working ‘extremely hard’ and deserve ‘every penny of their salary’.
They may not be making laws and participating in debates but the parties say they have ‘a hell of a lot of work’ to do. This work involves meeting people and officials, taking calls, writing letters and getting small civic projects sanctioned.
On August 5, the Supreme Court had given the Centre five weeks to decide whether Delhi gets an alternative government or will undergo fresh elections. It had remarked that the MLAs were getting paid but were doing nothing as the Assembly was in a state of suspended animation.
Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay told HT, “The Congress has acknowledged that its MLAs are not working.
Our MLAs are meeting people, officials and getting problems of water and power solved. But there is no denying the fact that we would have been able to do much more had there been an elected government in place.”
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claims its MLAs are doing as much work as possible through ‘relentless and numerous’ Mohalla Sabhas or street meetings, which allow people to decide how MLAs should spend their development funds.
The AAP’s Shakur Basti MLA Satyendra Kumar Jain said, “We’re working 18 hours a day. People start calling our MLAs from 5 am to get their problems like water and power supplies fixed. Sometimes our work lasts till 2 in the night.”
Jain, who was the health minister in Arvind Kejriwal’s 49-day government, said, “The Congress MLA who has returned his salary must be hailed for his honest confession. Those who think they don’t deserve their salaries must return it.”
Even the Congress chose to disown the gesture of its own MLA. “We have no information that any of our MLAs has returned his salary. It’s an individual decision. The party has not felt the need to discuss the matter. All our MLAs are working very hard,” said a party spokesperson.
According to a source in the urban development department, anticipating elections, almost 75% of the MLAs have started work in their constituencies. The department plans the local area development. “A number of them have managed to exhaust their annual fund of Rs. 4 crore in less than two months,” he said.