THEY CAME in city buses and rickshaws. Worn out by time and age, many of them looked pathetic. Who would say that they once strode the corridors of power in the State? They are the MLAs of yesteryears, but a sharp contrast to the present, luxury-loving public representatives of today.
The former MLAs here to attend a convention called by Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey here today. Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav was present and the former MLAs took the opportunity to put forward their demands.
They demanded that their salary and limit of rail travel coupons be increased. The MLAs pleaded that their salary should be raised to Rs 5000 from the present Rs 3000.
The CM made a prompt response to their demands. Yadav announced that an all-party committee headed by the Speaker would be formed to review the salary of former legislators.
The committee would also look into the demand to provide a special transit hostel for former MLAs, he said. The CM announced that the limit of railway travel coupons given to MLAs would be increased from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000.
The former MLAs would be provided accommodation at the VVIP Guest House at Dalibagh at Rs 50 per day instead of the existing charge of Rs 100 per day, he said. Yadav was in a ‘give away’ mood. So he declared an assistance of Rs 1 Lakh to former MLA of Ikaunha Bhagwati Prasad. Prasad had been running a teashop in Bahraich. Another former MLA Ram Singh, who has brain tumour, would be treated at government expense, the Chief Minister said adding that he was willing to extend a similar assistance to other former MLAs for medical treatment.
The Chief Minister said used the occasion to spread the good word about the achievements of his government. He said, “The endeavour is to provide top class medical facilities in all parts of the State. The State Government has decided to set up four new medical colleges in the backward districts.”
Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey stressed on the need to increase the salary of former MLAs. Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari also spoke of the same and got support of Minister for Urban Development Mohammad Azam Khan.
Tiwari was the only non-Samajwadi Party leader who attended the function even as leaders of other parties were conspicuous by their absence.
While the present leaders indulged in politicking, the former MLAs disregarded the BJP boycott call. A former Jan Sangh MLA of 1967 Bajrang Bali Brahmachari said he was not aware of the BJP boycott call. Brahmachari praised the Chief Minister for his announcements and hoped that their salary would be increased.
Recalling his days in active politics, Brahmachari said that in 1981 he had contested the Vidhan Sabha poll against the then Chief Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh.
All the MLAs were given a memento. Though many of them requested for a government diary to enable them to keep in touch with the power that be.