Salary hike more important for UP lawmakers than State's development

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Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
What if law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh is deteriorating day by day, the lawmakers in the State are only worried about their salaries and perks. This came to fore in the ongoing Budget Session of the Legislative Assembly, where in spite of raising common man's problem, the MLAs ,cutting across party lines, have demanded a hike in their monthly salary and other allowances.

The otherwise feuding politicians have struck a rare unanimity on the issue and are demanding a hike citing price rise and inflation. According to them, the present 50,000 salary is not enough to perform their duties effectively as legislators so they want a hike which atleast enable them to "offer tea and snacks to visitors".

Interestingly, the allowances of UP MLAs were increased substantially in March 2013. Still, the wealthy MLAs feel that a raise in their allowances is needed to put them at par with the members of Parliament and the money should not be less than that earned by principal secretaries. The lawmakers in this cash-strapped State have always been enjoying handsome salary as compared to their counterparts in other States.

UP Assembly: A house of crorepatis

The UP Legislative Assembly presently houses 271 crorepatis out of 403 members. A report of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) compiled on the basis of affidavits submitted ahead of the 2012 Assembly polls, puts the figure of crorepatis at 67 per cent of the house strength. Of them, the maximum crorepatis belong to the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) which has 140, followed by the BSP (63), the BJP (32), the Congress (18) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (7).

Prominent among them are Nawab Qazim Ali (Congress), Subhash (SP), Sanjay Jaiswal (Congress), Noor Rana (BSP) and Vimla Singh (BJP).

A quick look at their present salary:

Currently, the MLAs and the members of Legislative Council (MLCs) get Rs 60,750, besides other perks. Legislators now get a basic pay of Rs.8,000, a constituency allowance of Rs.22,000 and Rs.10,000 each as secretarial and medical allowance. Other than this, they are entitled to free rail travel of Rs.125,000 in a year and a monthly telephone bill of Rs.6,000. It was revised in March 2013.

The UP Legislative Assembly presently have 271 crorepatis out of 403 members.

The salaries and other emoluments of the State's legislators were last revised February 7, 2010, when the Government, then headed by Chief Minister Mayawati, had announced: "The Government has decided to hike the salary and perks of members in both houses to Rs 50,000 per month from existing Rs 30,000."

Till then, legislators received Rs 3,000 a month as salary, Rs 15,000 as constituency allowance, Rs 6,000 as medical allowance and Rs 6,000 as secretarial allowance. Then, on March 7, 2013, political expediency prevailed on economic prudence as Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mohd Azam Khan announced that very soon there would be another hike.

Is MLAs demand justified?

It is well known fact that the crime rate is at its peak in Uttar Pradesh, incidents of rapes, murders, riots are making headlines everyday, people have lost their faith on the lawmakers under such situation a demand for salary hike will only inflict a sense of being cheated among the people. If they really need a hike, the MLAs would first have to shed their 'non-performing tag' by actively participating in local issues.

The demand by the crorepatis lawmakers will also put extra burden on the State exchequer. The financially crunched Uttar Pradesh Government has put on hold a number of schemes citing shortage of monetary resources. Under such circumstances, the salary hike of MLAs will only put burden, running into crores, on the economically backward State economy.

Uttar Pradesh since long time has been in news for all wrong reasons. Rather than taking steps to improve deteriorating conditions in the State, the lawmakers have been engaged in making some stupid comments in media, going on foreign junkets. In such scenario, if the Government bows down to demand of MLAs it will only send wrong signal in public.

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