The new financial year starts off on a good note for the elected representatives to the Karnataka assembly and council. The lawmakers gave themselves an overall increment of over 55%. Just after the budget debate was over, the parliamentary affairs moved a bill for revising the salaries and allowances of the MLAs and MLCs a move which was opposed by no political party or any individual MLA.
Under the new package, the MLAs will now get Rs 25,000 salary instead of the present salary of Rs 20,000. While the salary component remains low, the allowances and reimbursements for the MLAs have got a major hike. MLAs who used to be paid RS 90,000 including other allowances will now get Rs 1,40,000 every month.
Capt Ganesh Karnik , MLC responding to the hike said,” If you look at the allowances that the MLAs and MLCs will now get may match the expenses that we have on a regular basis as a part of our duty to people. The hike will only encourage the MLAs and MLCs to work with more enthusiasm in their constituency”. Most other MLAs and MLCs who TEHELKA spoke to refused to come on record, but justify that the expenses that an MLA has in maintaining constituency have become huge. Interestingly Karnataka has some of the richest MLAs in the country. The average assets of MLAs in Karnataka were measured at average of Rs 23.54 crores for the Karnataka assembly.
Congress MLA Dr Ajay Singh said,” Every day that I spend in my constituency, I have 150-200 visitors minimum, even if I had to offer them basic courtesy with a cup of tea/coffee it costs Rs 1000/-. With a constituency allowance of Rs 15,000 I could not afford it, atleast now with the hike I can afford to spend it”.
But the question is that in the powerful world of politics, it’s hard to believe that the MLAs and MLCs are dependent only on their salaries and allowances to sustain themselves. Let alone, the common man, the move has not gone down well even with political functionaries in the Tanveer Ahmed, spokesperson of JDS said,”The hike should be linked to accountability, if we have to eliminate corruption they have to be paid better, but at the sametime the performance of the elected representatives should be measured under some yardsticks”.
So while the Bill sailed through without any hiccup in the lower house, one only hopes that the hike will bring in bigger sense of commitment to masses and the corruption levels will come down.