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MPs rock Parliament for pay hike; Govt promises bill

MPs cutting across party lines raked up the salary issue, forcing Centre to give assurance.



New Delhi: Agitated over delay in raise in
their salaries and allowances, MPs cutting across party lines
raked up the issue today rocking Parliament and forcing the
government to give an assurance that it would try to bring a
bill in this regard during the current session.

Members created an uproar in the Lok Sabha during Zero
Hour, forcing its adjournment for two hours.

A day after the Union Cabinet deferred a decision on the
proposed three-fold increase from Rs 16,000, an angry RJD
chief Lalu Prasad vociferously demanded the hike.

He was joined by Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party
and other members of SP, BSP, RJD, JD(U), Shiv Sena and
Trinamool Congress.

Several Congress members were also seen standing in
support of Prasad`s demand for a fair deal to the law makers.
They were gesticulating to BJP members to stand up in support
of the issue and not remain silent spectators.

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

Speaker Meira Kumar tried to pacify them but they were in
no mood to listen.

She called BJP member Yogi Adityanath to raise his Zero
Hour issue, but he could not be heard in the din.

Soon after the Speaker adjourned the House till 2 PM,
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee went to Prasad and was seen
talking to him and Mulayam.

When the House re-assembled, Prasad and other members
again created pandemonium.

At this the Finance Minister said, "This has to be done
through a legislation. A bill has to be brought to amend the
Salaries And Allowances Of Member Of Parliament Act, 1954...
We are trying bring the legislation in this session."

Noting that the government is "fully aware of the
sensitivities of the issue", he said the legislation would
"truly reflect" the suggestions made by the Parliamentary
Committee in this regard.

He said the increased salaries would be effective from
the present Lok Sabha.

Prasad was not satisfied with Mukherjee`s assurance and
asked him not to beat about the bush but give concrete
assurance.

"We are ready. Bring the Bill tomorrow, we will pass it
in two minutes," he said, leaving Mukherjee smiling.

The issue was also raised in the Rajya Sabha.

Rajniti Prasad (RJD) raised the issue when the House met
for the day and instantly found support from members in the
opposition benches. "What has happened to the proposal to increase MPs`
salary, we want to know," Rajniti Prasad said citing the
deferment of decision by Cabinet yesterday on the issue.

Chairman Hamid Ansari said only questions can be taken up
during the Question Hour but members were unrelenting.

Mukherjee said the matter was under consideration.

"The report of the Joint Committee on Salaries and
Allowances of Members of Parliament has been received by the
government. It is under consideration," he said without giving
a time frame by when it would be implemented.

"The report will be made effective from beginning of 15th
(present) Lok Sabha. Whenever the bill is passed, it will have
retrospective effect," he said.

Mukherjee`s reply did not satisfy members who insisted on
knowing by when it will be implemented and why Cabinet
deliberations were being selectively leaked to media.

Ansari did not allow anyone to speak on the issue and took
up the listed questions.

In the Lok Sabha, Mukherjee said the members should not
worry on account of pay hike but refused to give details,
saying it would not be possible for him to do so.

The RJD chief said since the Joint Parliamentary Committee
had considered the hike in salary and made its recommendations
after considering the present cost of living, its report had
to be accepted in full.

He said TV news channels were debating the issue without
considering the present day realities and were "humiliating"
MPs by asking what was the hike for when they are not working.

Describing the MPs as "true protectors" of democracy and
public servants, Prasad said, "We work 24 hours a day and
serve as MPs for five years."

He said MPs "have to serve tea and feed a lot of people.
Our houses are like ashrams where several hundreds come and
stay, and we have to take care of all of them. The number of
phone calls we have to make and the number of letters we have
to write everyday for official purposes too is huge."

Citing protocol, he said MPs are asking a salary which is
only a Re 1 more than what the Cabinet Secretary gets.

"We are being criticised for seeking hike in salaries by
certain persons, who stash away black money in Swiss banks.

There are people who stay in five-star hotels and they are the
ones who criticise us for seeking a realistic salary that
matches our official expenses," he said.

"Yehi logon ke ghar ke aagey `kuttey se saudhan` likha
hota hai, Kuttey ke saath sotey hain aur kuttey ko kiss karten
hai. (When you go to their houses, the warning on the gate
says `beware of dogs`. These people sleep with their dog and
also kiss their dogs)," he said without identifying anyone.

Prasad`s remarks received widespread support and cheer
from members cutting across party lines.

Responding to his request, Mukherjee said as per practice,
the salary hike for MPs would be effective from the day the
current Lok Sabha was constituted.

-PTI

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