In the face of a spate in farmer suicides, the K Chandrasekhara Rao government saved itself from a major embarrassment in its first ever budget on Wedneday by deferring a proposal to increase the pay packages of Telangana legislators.
The state’s first budget was presented by finance minister Eetela Rajender even as grassroots organisations on Wednesday put the number of suicides at 363 since the state’s formation on June 2.
However, most of the cases are not being recognised as farm suicides by the authorities thereby denying the victim families a government aid of up to Rs 1.5 lakh.
While none of the ruling TRS legislators are prepared to question their government on the issue, some are warming up to the idea of hiking their own pay by about a lakh. Though their basic salary is a modest Rs 12, 000, MLAs receive perks that puts the total figure at Rs 1.2 lakh.
The suggestion was double this to Rs 2 lakh with CM Rao reportedly defending the move — under the argument that this would only incur a total expense of about Rs 38 crore — “an agreeable sum for the legislators who build the state.”
“The fiscal burden (of a public servant) is unbearable. I travel over 10,000km every month in my constituency and the present package can only meet fuel expense,” Jupalli Krishna Rao, a TRS MLA and a former Congress minister, told HT. “If the package is remunerative the scope of corruption would be less,” Rao added.
Opposition Congress, TDP and BJP seem to be comfortable with the idea with none opposing the proposal. “We have not taken any line on this. I will react later,” said BJP floor leader K Laxman. Finance minister Eetela Rajender said that the proposal for the salary hike was not “part of the budget on Wednesday”.