You spoke about MPs’ salaries in Rajya Sabha Wednesday
Naresh Agrawal raised the issue of an increase in salaries. My point was different… There is a joint parliamentary committee on salaries… The committee had unanimously made certain recommendations which in principle were accepted by the cabinet but not implemented… After that the 7th Pay Commission recommendations were implemented. Now the situation is that senior private secretaries to MPs get more than the MPs. The demand for salary hike for MPs has often been criticised. Nobody realises that MPs have to maintain two establishments — one in Delhi, other one in their constituencies, and it is 24×7.
When did the committee submit its report?
I think in 2015. Now, what I said was why don’t you create an institutional mechanism… if you are not satisfied with this system… As of today, the process is through the JPC. But if you don’t want that, then create an alternative. That alternative could be embedded by the government in the Pay Commission. And go by the practice followed by other democracies, so that you don’t have to revise it every time.
How do you want the government to implement the practices in other democracies?
We are talking of practice in principle, not the emoluments. Other democracies have a firm institutional system. That their MPs will get an x amount more than their senior-most civil servant. For example, in France they give 1 franc more than the senior-most civil servant to the MPs. What we are saying to the government is you decide… give Re 1 more, but settle it…. This way you will also make legislature the exclusive domain of the rich, affluent, the landlords or the agents of the rich, not people’s representatives.
How do you plan to take it forward?
We don’t want to. We have told them that you reject or take it to the Pay Commission. Create an institutional mechanism. But you can’t make MPs beg… The narrative has to be fair. Put in place an alternative mechanism. Don’t create this perception that MPs are raising their own salaries.