NEW DELHI: Delhi legislators may have fewer law-making powers than their counterparts in states but that has not stopped them from seeking a two-fold increase in pay. If the proposed hike in Delhi MLA salaries gets cleared by the Assembly, it will catapult them to the top 5, along with states like Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat and J&K.

The proposed hike recommends that Delhi legislators' monthly salary be raised from the current Rs 6,000 to Rs 12,000. A comparison of basic pay shows that MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh earn Rs 30,000 followed by Rs 21,000 by those in Gujarat and Rs 20,000 by those in J&K. This does not include perks like daily allowance, constituency allowance, office expenses and conveyance allowance.

Most MLAs get a daily allowance between Rs 400-Rs 750 though MLAs in Himachal, who do not get a salary, receive Rs 1,000 as daily allowance and Rs 20,000 as constituency allowance. While Andhra MLAs gets a mere Rs 5,000 as basic salary, they get the highest constituency allowance (Rs 35,000). As part of office expenses, Kerala, Mizoram and West Bengal give laptops to legislators.

Delhi's proposed hike comes close on the heels of the Union government giving Members of Parliament a three-fold increase in salaries. Reacting to the season of "hikes", Anil Bairwal of Association for Democratic Reforms said the increase in salary was a fit case of "misplaced priorities".

"The government should first tackle criminalisation in politics, use of blatant money power and the lack of transparency in assets and income of elected representatives. Legislators are employed by the people. Despite an overwhelming hesitancy by the employer in giving a hike, legislators and MPs are giving themselves a salary increase in complete disregard of the people's sentiment," Bairwal said.

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Himanshi Dhawan
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