Hours after the Union Cabinet cleared a 300 per cent salary hike, from Rs. 16,000 to Rs. 50,000, for members of Parliament and doubled their perks on Friday, they appeared to be a dissatisfied lot and stalled the Lok Sabha proceedings thrice during the day, demanding more money.
Though the Cabinet, which met here under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the Bill seeking a three-fold increase in the basic salary of MPs, it fell short of Rs. 80,001 recommended by a joint parliamentary committee which stated that an MP should get at least Re. 1 more than the top Central government bureaucrats.
This was enough to trigger an uproar and protests in the House by members of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP), Akali Dal, Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Bahujan Samaj Party.
Besides salary, an MP gets an allowance of Rs.1,000 for each day the Parliament is in session or for taking part in House committee meetings. This has been doubled. A member is also entitled to a constituency allowance of Rs.20,000 per month and an office expense allowance of Rs.20,000 per month. These perks too have also been doubled.
The increase in their salaries and perks would be given with retrospective effect from May 2009, when the 15th Lok Sabha was constituted. However, the increase will be implemented when the Bill seeking amendment to the Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, is brought in Parliament and passed by both the Houses.
The loud protest was led by RJD chief Lalu Prasad and SP president Mulayam Singh, who termed the hike as “minimal,” and demanded that the proposed increase by the Cabinet be taken back and recommendations of the parliamentary panel be implemented. They barged into the well of the House, raising slogans. Mr. Prasad charged the government with “insulting the MPs with minimal raise.”
Initially, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar pleaded with the protesting MPs to let the Question Hour proceed and asked them to raise the issue during Zero Hour, but adjourned the House till 12 noon when they did not heed to her request. The scene was no different when the Lok Sabha reassembled, forcing another adjournment till 2 p.m.
When the House met for the post-lunch session, Deputy Speaker Karia Munda was in the Chair and the protestors once again trooped inside the well. However, He continued with the legislative business, and the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2010, moved by Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, was passed in the din without any discussion. Mr. Munda then adjourned the House for the day.
Even after the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day, RJD and SP members remained inside the well and staged a sit-in protest. Bharatiya Janata Party and JD (U) members, who were miffed at the medical council Bill being passed without discussion, created an uproar, tore apart lists of business for the day, calling it a “murder of democracy” and also sat inside the House.