Uproar over delay in hiking pay for MPs

Angry members caused uproar in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday over the delay in raising their salaries and allowances. This led to the adjournment of the House for two hours. Later, the government gave promised that an amended bill would be introduced in the current session itself.

The issue was raised by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad. He vociferously demanded a hike as recommended by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on Salaries and Allowances of MPs. He was supported by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and members of the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Janata Dal (United), the Shiv Sena and the Trinamool Congress.

Left members distanced themselves from the issue, as their parties have been historically opposing any move by Parliament to decide on the salary and allowances of members; they favoured an independent commission.

Speaker Meira Kumar tried to pacify the members, but her efforts went in vain and the House had to be adjourned till 2 p.m. As soon as the House re-assembled, Mr. Prasad and other members again noisily raised their demand.

Intervening, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said it had to be done through legislation. “A bill has to be brought in to amend the Salaries and Allowances of Member Of Parliament Act, 1954. We are trying to bring in legislation in this session itself.”

Mr. Mukherjee said the government was “fully aware of the sensitivities of the members” and legislation would “truly reflect” the JPC's suggestions. The increased salaries would be effective from the constitution of the Lok Sabha.

“We are ready. Bring the bill tomorrow, we will pass it in two minutes,” Mr. Prasad said, evoking laughter from the members.

In the Rajya Sabha, the government said the report by the JPC was under consideration, and irrespective of when the Bill was passed, it would come into effect from the date of the constitution of the 15th Lok Sabha.

The Finance Minister made this brief statement in the House when Rajniti Prasad of the RJD and some other members sought a clarification after reports emerged that differences in the Cabinet led to postponement of a decision.

Separately, the CPI(M) said it was opposed to the manner in which members gave themselves an increase in the salary and allowance. It wanted a systemic mechanism to determine the periodic revision as followed in some other parliamentary democracies. “You don't sit on judgment on your own issue,” party leader Sitaram Yechury said.

At press conference, he said the party would not take part in the discussion on the bill when it came to Parliament. The party advocated a mechanism through which the issue could be determined.

In 2006, the then Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Suresh Pachauri, indicated that the government was willing to consider the demand and come back to Parliament.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 7:46:05 AM |

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