The proposed hike in the salaries of Delhi lawmakers, aimed at finally improving the pathetic pay structure of the MLAs, makes sense, and it’s been long-time coming. Because at Rupees 12, 000 a month, one can’t even sustain one’s own self, let alone maintain a whole family! Children alone consume much more than 12, 000 a month in the form of school/college fees, books, vacations, medical expense, and personal needs etc.! Even a regular driver earns more than that!
The argument that they get perks and incentives to make up for, that they don’t have to pay for the various bills, and rent, fuel, airfare, rail fare, electricity and water, is unintelligent, and motivated. The very same politicians would have lapped the idea of a pay hike had they been in the assembly today themselves…
Adarsh Shastri, the AAP MLA from Dwarka, wants us to get into an MLA’s shoes, and then see if we want to complain. He says it’s very important to appreciate the challenges that an MLA has to face each day. He welcomes anyone to come live his life and see if they can manage in the amount that they currently get. AAP was formed to further honest politics and this needs an honest understanding of the conditions we operate in.
Adarsh Shastri quit his job as the head of the South Asia sales unit at Apple after joining the party. Shastri, who is heading the AAP government’s team that looks into providing free wifi in the city, commanded a package of Rs 1.25 crores per annum at the time of quitting.
Members of the opposition parties, who were unceremoniously removed from the Delhi Assembly because they miserably lost the mandate of people, must first vacate the Bunglows they have occupied with acres of sprawling lawns. It’s perfectly normal, and respectable, to live in normal-size homes. There is no objective in allotting acres of land to one man, and maybe his three-member family, at the cost of hundreds of thousands who sleep, eat, and live on pavements and streets. Since not many will vacate the palatial bunglows by free will, the Supreme Court must ponder over the possibility of their eviction.
They are spreading noise, making 400%-increase seem like blasphemy, cleverly keeping the context in which the proposal was made, hidden. They conveniently kept from public the knowledge that MLAs get small amounts. Before raising hell, critics must ask themselves these questions: Can I support a family just on the basis of perks? Do I need money only to pay my bills? Don’t I have other needs; don’t my children have other needs, in areas that allowances and perks don’t cover?
Meanwhile, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal must be in a fix. The AAP leader may be left to rue a statement he tweeted in March, 2012, where he taunted politicians. “No consensus amongst political parties on Lokpal in 44 years. If they have to increase their salaries, there is consensus in 5 min,” Kejriwal had tweeted. He was an activist then, fighting for a national anti-graft ombudsman, called the Lokpal, to be set up.
On Twitter, several people dug up Kejriwal’s old tweet.
Politicians have this habit, of making self-serving statements, only to backtrack when the direction of political air changes. There is an element of hypocrisy there, but it is a question of one man’s morality against the reality, the need of the hour. The issue is whether the pay hike is justified or not, not what Kejriwal said way back in time, and whether it’s aligned with his actions of today. Rupees 12,000 a month is too small a salary to run a respectable household at a time when prices of even basic items, like onions, are reaching sky high.
The proposal was made by the Delhi Speaker and it seems likely that it will be duly passed.