A VOICE OF CONSCIENCE
Parliament is a venue of fierce debates, mutual accusations, coercive tactics of MPs like mobbing the Speaker in the well of the House and walk-outs. But there is one proposal that finds no opposition; all agree irrespective of ruling or Opposition. That is the proposal to raise the MPs’ emoluments: Everyone is smugly silent and allows the motion to pass unanimously.
Contrary to the usual unanimity of all members, BJP MP Varun Gandhi recently spoke out on the proposal of another hike on MPs’ salaries. Questioning lawmakers’ (MPs’) powers to increase their own salaries, he suggested setting up an external body with independent members to determine MPs’ emoluments. He asked how, at a time when some 18,000 farmers have committed suicide over the last year because of poverty, could the peoples’ representatives demand a 400 per cent hike they had given themselves in the last decade.
Varun Gandhi cited the example of Jawaharlal Nehru’s (a name that is anathema to Modi and party) first Cabinet meeting in which its members had decided not to avail their salaries for six months. He also mentioned the decision of the Madras Assembly in 1949 to impose a voluntary cut of Rs.5 a day in recognition of suffering of farmers. Today, considerable sections of people are still under the poverty line. And farmers from Madras (Tamil Nadu) demonstrated at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to show their pathetic condition, while the state assembly passed a motion to double the salaries of its MLAs!
Varun said it was “shameful” that the numbers of Lok Sabha sitting had dropped from 123 days a year in 1952 to 75 in 2017. “Barely 50 per cent of the bills have been passed after scrutiny by Parliamentary Committees. When bills are passed without serious deliberation, it defeats the purpose of having a Parliament,” he said.
Legislators today think that spending money to win elections is an investment and they have to get good returns for the investment. And why not? With the hefty salary and allowances and a life-long pension for being a member for the few years, their life is made quite legally. The illegal earnings for acting as agents of big business houses and taking up partisan causes are unlimited for those who are unscrupulous.
PM Modi promised a rule with a difference – eradicating corruption was his priority. He claims that corruption is eradicated. Of course, not much is reported from the Centre but the states ruled by BJP have now a greater share of mega-scams reported than under Congress rule. It is heartening to note that a BJP MP has raised the people’s voice in Parliament. He has acted as the real grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru.