After months of bitter battle between the ruling party and the opposition, legislators from across party lines came together to help themselves to a hefty pay hike.
Two bills tabled by the Siddaramaiah government proposing a hike in salary and allowances for MLAs sailed through unopposed in the legislative assembly in Bengaluru on Monday. They will be placed before the legislative council or Upper House on Tuesday.
The Karnataka Legislature Salaries, Pensions and Allowances (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and Karnataka Ministers Salaries and Allowances (Amendment) Bill were passed in the assembly by voice vote.
The Karnataka Ministers Salaries and Allowances (Amendment) Bill proposes to increase the salaries of the chief minister and ministers from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 per month and from Rs 25,000 to Rs 40,000 per month, respectively.
The sumptuary allowance has been increased to Rs 3 lakh per month for both CMs and ministers.
The Karnataka Legislature Salaries, Pensions and Allowances (Amendment) Bill proposes an increase in salary of legislators from Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 per mensem or every month. By effecting a hike of Rs. 5,000 in their basic salaries, the gross emoluments of MLAs will go up from Rs. 90,000 to Rs. 1,40,000 per month.
The bills were moved by chief minister Siddaramaiah and was announced by Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa after putting it to voice vote.
The salaries of the Legislative Council chairperson and the Speaker will be Rs 50,000 per month and sumptuary allowance Rs 3 lakh each.
But the real milk-and-honey lies in the allowances. For instance the constituency allowance, paid to maintain and run an office, has been hiked from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 40,000 per month. And travel allowance has been hiked from Rs. 15,000 to 40,000 per month. The allowance given to maintain a PA (Rs. 10,000) and the telephone allowance (Rs. 5,000) will remain unchanged.
Allowances for which MLAs are required to produce bills too saw a significant hike. The travel allowance will go up from Rs. 20 to Rs. 25 per km. Hotel allowance will go up from Rs. 1,000 to Rs, 2,000 per day. A new head has been created where an MLA will get a per diem of Rs. 2,500 per day of outstation travel.
Captain Ganesh Karnik of the BJP welcomed the move and said the hike is a great thing for legislators who are honest and have no other source of income.
Son of former CM Dharam Singh and Congress MLA Ajay Singh said, "Each day, I get nearly 200 visitors in my constituency office. I end up spending Rs. 1,500 on just tea or buttermilk."
State's former lokayukta Santosh Hegde told news agency ANI that the move is "totally a misuse of power."
"They (the legislators) are here to serve the people, not themselves," said Hegde.
(With PTI and ANI inputs)