No work and all pay for MPs

The Hindu, December 24, 2010

BJP, Left justify saying it was the Congress that stalled Parliament by not
agreeing to JPC probe

Some Congress MPs also wanted their daily allowance to go to
Prime Minister’s Relief Fund

Attending the House for a full day, or not working and ensuring Parliament stood adjourned day after day, has made no difference to the members’ pay packets and allowances. All of them have drawn their full pay and most of them have also pocketed the daily attendance allowance of Rs. 2000 although Parliament was non-functional for 22 of a total of 23 sittings.

Available statistics suggest that all MPs, except those of the Congress, have drawn their full attendance allowance for the session. This translates into Rs. 44,000 an MP for the session, apart from their salaries of about Rs. 80,000 a month plus perquisites.

With some encouragement from its party leadership, a large number of Congress members gave letters to the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha Secretariats that they would not like to claim their daily attendance allowance ? although they were present and signed the registers ? as Parliament was stalled and there was no business transacted. Some also wrote that what was due to them as daily allowance may be given to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

We did a service: BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party has a somewhat different take on the matter. Deputy leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia blamed the Congress for the lost winter session.

?They had a guilty conscience as their government did not agree to a joint parliamentary committee to probe the 2-G spectrum allocation scandal and caused stalling of Parliament. Goaded by their leaders, some Congress MPs may have said they do not want to draw their allowances. We [in the BJP] have done a public service by demanding a full probe by a parliamentary committee. We are not responsible for House adjournments and there was no need for us to forego the daily allowance.?

The same party has always approved the ?no work, no pay’ principle for striking workers, irrespective of the justness of their demands.

Left parties had a similar view. Leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) parliamentary party Basudev Acharya said: ?It was because of the government’s obduracy the House did not function. We attended Parliament every day and wanted it to function so that we could raise issues connected to the people. By not agreeing to a JPC, the government did not allow Parliament to perform its work.? In short, he saw no reason for MPs of Left parties to forego their daily allowance.

Statistics speak

Statistics available with The Hindu indicate that 137 Congress members from the Lok Sabha volunteered not to take their daily allowance and from the Upper House about 50 per cent of the 70-odd Congress MPs in the Rajya Sabha also opted for not taking the attendance allowance. With about 170 MPs not drawing their allowance, an approximate sum of Rs. 75 lakh was saved. A rough calculation indicates if all MPs had not withdrawn their allowance over Rs 3 crore would have been saved.

Conscience factor

On December 13, last day of the winter session, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal claimed that of the 280-odd Congress members in Parliament, there were roughly 55 Ministers who were not entitled to draw any allowance for attending Parliament. Of the remaining approximately 225 MPs, most of them ? barring half-a-dozen ? had given letters voluntarily relinquishing claim to the daily allowance as Parliament had not functioned and their ?conscience did not permit them? to claim the allowance.

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