People’s representatives help themselves
Posted April 13, 2010on:
Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Ishwardas Rohani made a sort of history in the recently concluded budget session. He allowed the session to last its full scheduled term, that is, till March 26. The reason: the House had to adopt legislation to increase the wages and perks of the privileged few— the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, members of the council of ministers and, of course, the MLAs. Naturally, a measure of such vital importance could not be postponed till the next session.
The House, in fact, sat beyond the normal time on March 26 because of some technical problems which delayed presentation of the legislation in the Assembly for its approval. Perhaps the Speaker and the chief minister were not sure if the problems would be sorted out that very day because the presentation of the legislation was not mentioned in the day’s printed agenda. A palpable tension was visible among the honourable representatives of the people as they waited in the House for the three bills to arrive with the Governor’s signature; money bills require the Governor’s prior approval.
The House heaved a collective sigh of relief, as the word came late in the afternoon that the Governor had signed the proposed bills. The formalities preceding the presentation of legislation in the Assembly were completed at break-neck speed and a supplementary agenda sheet was distributed to the members. The three bills were presented in the House a little before 7 in the evening and adopted unanimously within minutes. Another record created by Rohani, this time with the fullest cooperation of the members of all parties.
Well, one more record was created in this session — and that by some of the Opposition members. As they came to know, a day earlier, of the government’s hectic efforts to get the bills okayed in this session, they shouted slogans in the Assembly corridors hailing finance minister Raghavji – even those who had been critical of Raghavji joined in shouting “Raghavji Zindabad”. The increase in the wages/allowances of MLAs has been effected on the recommendations of a committee which was headed by Deputy Speaker Harvansh Singh (Congress) who was once dropped by Digvijay Singh from his cabinet following serious allegations of corruption against him.
The legitimate earnings of the ministers and legislators per month will go up considerably under the provisions of the new legislation. The Speaker will now get Rs 60,300 in place of Rs 45,000 and the chief minister will receive Rs 65,000 instead of Rs 9,000 (which came to around Rs 30,000 with allowances). The increased wages for other categories are, with the present wages given in the brackets: Deputy Speaker Rs 57,300 (Rs 42,000), Leader of the Opposition Rs 56,300 (Rs 45,000), MLA Rs 50,250 (Rs 35,000), cabinet minister Rs 62,000 (Rs 9000), and Minister of State Rs 60,000 (Rs 9,000). The pension of the former MLAs has been increased from Rs 9,000 to Rs 15,000 per month while their family pension goes up from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 per month. Plus there are sundry allowances for each category.
Hardly half a dozen other States can now claim that the people’s representatives there get as much legitimate money per month as those in Madhya Pradesh.