A section of Aam Aadmi Party MLAs have asked the party-led Delhi government for an increase in their allowances, citing problems in meeting expenses that include the cost of maintaining an office in their constituencies, transportation and running a household.
Affirming that such a request has been made to AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a senior government official said, “While no special meeting was held for this, concerns about meeting expenses were raised by some MLAs in their weekly meetings with Arvind. Most of them are first-time MLAs, former India Against Corruption volunteers and first-generation Delhi residents.”
Elaborating on the concerns raised by the MLAs, the official said, “Their basic monthly salary is Rs 12,000. With all the allowances and perks that an MLA receives every month, the sum comes to around Rs 84,000.”
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Nitin Tyagi, AAP MLA from Laxmi Nagar, spoke out about the difficulties in meeting expenses. “Each MLA is expected to run an office in their constituency. The monthly rent for that is approximately between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000. In addition to that, you need to pay salaries to your office staff, pay electricity and water bills. Monthly expenditure on fuel itself comes to around Rs 20,000. We have made a request for increasing our allowances or for providing us office space or staff members.”
Another AAP MLA also claimed that increased allowance was a necessity “There are several people who come to our office. At least we should be able to serve them tea. Moreover, there are conveyance expenses within the constituency. We have to visit various government offices and make several rounds of the constituency in case there is an issue there and we need to intervene,” said the legislator.
But the opposition BJP came down heavily on the AAP government, alleging that the plea for an increase in allowance is just a ploy the party is using to get more access to public funds. “They are appointing parliamentary secretaries and increasing government expenditure on advertisements. The party is using its MLAs and this demand is just a ploy to get more public money. For a while, MLAs have been working on the same salaries,” said Vijendra Gupta, BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly.