A VOICE OF CON­SCIENCE

Alive - - Editorial -

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.

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