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It’s all in the family: 146 MPs employ relatives as their personal assistants

Ethically improper as Parliament pays PAs,say experts; 60 sons,36 wives among 'personal staff'.

Written by Shyamlal Yadav | New Delhi |
May 15, 2013 3:34:09 am

Giving a whole new dimension to the tradition of politicians “keeping it in the family”,dozens of Members of Parliament (MPs) have been found employing their sons,daughters,wives,brothers,sisters and other close relatives as their personal assistants (PAs) — paid for by the state. Related: MPs’ working relationships

Investigation by The Indian Express,based on data accessed under the RTI Act,has found that at least 146 MPs — 104 from the Lok Sabha and 42 from the Rajya Sabha — have appointed at least 191 relatives in their personal staff.

Under the salary and allowances rules,the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats have to pay Rs 30,000 per month to those employed by MPs for secretarial assistance. This amount can be paid entirely to one PA or an MP can split the amount between more than one assistant.

Although an MP appointing a family member or a close relative as a PA does not violate any rule,experts and some senior MPs said it certainly raises questions of ethics and propriety. Such choices also come at the cost of ignoring loyal party workers or those better qualified from among their voters and supporters,they said.

Information accessed by The Indian Express shows that this army of family PAs includes 60 sons,36 wives,27 daughters,seven brothers,seven daughters-in-law,four husbands and 10 cousins,among others.

The list also cuts across lines of parties and political ideologies. Of the 146 MPs employing close relatives as PAs,38 are from the BJP,36 from Congress,15 from BSP,12 from Samajwadi Party,eight from DMK,seven from Biju Janata Dal,six from JD(U) and the rest from other parties.

Of these,36 MPs have appointed more than one relative as PAs while at least four have appointed three family members in their personal staff. Some members have appointed a family member as one PA and are paying them a large portion of the Rs 30,000 monthly entitlement and a second,non-family member as a PA for the remaining,smaller amount.

For instance,S K Bwiswmuthiary (Assam),Nikhil Kumar Choudhary (Bihar),Mohammed Ali Khan (Andhra Pradesh),S Thangavelu (Tamil Nadu),Dilipbhai Pandya (Gujarat),Ali Anwar Ansari (Bihar),Munqad Ali and Brajbhushan Sharan Singh (both UP) have appointed their two sons as PAs. Samajwadi Party MP from UP Tufani Saroj has appointed his two daughters.

C L Ruala,(Congress-Mizoram),Gorakhnath Pande (BSP-UP),Nripendra Nath Roy (AIFB-West Bengal) and Tapas Paul (TMC-West Bengal) have appointed their wife and son.

Sharifuddin Shariqe from Jammu and Kashmir has appointed his grandson and granddaughter as PAs. Saifuddin Soz from J&K and Rishang Keishing from Manipur have appointed their granddaughters.

BSP MP from UP Dr Baliram has appointed his two daughters and wife as PAs. His party colleague Ramashankar Rajbhar has appointed his two daughters and one son. BJP MP from Karnataka S Pakkirappa has appointed his son and daughter. BJP MP from Indore Sumitra Mahajan first appointed her daughter-in-law as her PA in Parliament but when Mahajan was appointed chairman of a parliamentary committee,the same daughter-in-law was appointed PA there too. Similarly,SP member from Allahabad,Rewati Raman Singh,has appointed his daughter as PA in Parliament and his niece as PA in his parliamentary committee secretariat.

The data accessed by The Indian Express also shows that 251 PA s of MPs,including some from among the 191 close relatives,are paid much below the minimum wage applicable in Delhi. The 251 comprise of 202 PAs of Lok Sabha members and 49 PAs of Rajya Sabha members,with some of them being paid Rs 2,000 per month while the minimum wage for even unskilled labourers in Delhi is more than Rs 8,000 per month.

Congress MP from Jammu,Madanlal Sharma,who has appointed his wife and son as his PAs,stresses that he has not violated any rule. “I am sure I have not violated any rule by appointing my relatives as my PAs. My son is a law graduate and returned from London. I depend on him more than anybody. If such appointments are not allowed,I will not do so,” he said.

Parliamentary experts,however,have a different take.

“This is certainly an ethical issue and related to the conduct of the members,” said Subhash Kashyap,former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha. “This should be considered either by the ethics committees or by the presiding officers of both houses.”

Ironically though,at least three MPs on the 14-member Lok Sabha ethics committee – Dara Singh Chauhan,Sumitra Mahajan and Prem Das Rai – and one MP on the 10-member Rajya Sabha ethics panel,E M S Natchiappan,are themselves on the list of MPs employing close relatives as PAs.

“Although there is no bar on appointing close relatives as personal staff,propriety demands that MPs should think and carefully consider before appointing relatives as PAs,” said Lok Sabha ethics committee chairman Sis Ram Ola. “I have been appointed chairman of this committee very recently and will consider this issue when it comes before the committee.”

The BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad,who is on the Rajya Sabha ethics panel,said he considered this practice “inappropriate”. “There may not be any legal or ethical issue,but this is a matter of political propriety. I consider it inappropriate. This is a larger issue in a time when politics is becoming family oriented. We will look at it whenever it comes before the ethics committee,” he said.

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