Lok Sabha member Baijayant `Jay’ Panda made quite an impression this week when, amid widespread condemnation of the winter session’s near washout, he offered to return a part of salary “proportional to the time wasted and lost”.
While some might follow the BJD member’s example, many of his fellow parliamentarians have said that it was a commitment not every representative could afford to make.
“Jay Panda may think he hasn’t worked and is returning a portion of the salary he draws as an MP,” said BJP’s Prahlad Singh Patel, the MP for Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh. “Maybe it is an ethical stand from his point of view… There is no set rule for idealism and it differs from case to case. Jay Panda, with his prosperous background, has the means to be this ethical. Others may need that salary because they are not that affluent,” he added.
Congress’ Rajya Sabha member and lawyer Vivek Tankha agreed. “What Jay Panda has tweeted is a point of view. But he is a very well-to-do person.How will many of the MPs survive if they give up their salaries? I can give up my salary because I have my legal practice. But I will not follow him today. I could review the situation later,” Tankha told TOI.
He argued that MPs were not personally responsible for the washout of sessions or the logjams. “I am a votary of Parliament functioning. I believe that debates can do much more than not debating. But decisions on how to protest in the House are not taken by MPs. Rather, these decisions are taken by the leadership,” Tankha said.
Congress’ Lok Sabha member for Ratlam, MP, Kanti Lal Bhuria argued that, in a democracy, it was the opposition’s duty to raise issues in Parliament. “Congress was repeatedly asking for the Prime Minister’s presence in the House during the discussion on demonetisation,” Bhuria said. “When the whole country is suffering because of the mismanagement in the implementation of the demonetisation decision, isn’t it the opposition’s duty to protest? As a Congress MP, I did my job. Jay Panda may have his own opinion,” he said.
BJP’s Alok Sanjar, who represents Bhopal in the Lok Sabha, said he was willing to give up his salary if his party brass instructed him to. “Jay Panda made an arbitrary decision. Working with BJP, I cannot,” Sanjar added.
“The deadlock in Parliament occurred because Congress would not let the House run. It is not an individual MP’s fault. But if my party takes a decision for MPs to return their salaries, I will obey the orders,” he said.