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Doubling salary of MLAs will see Tamil Nadu cheated of governance

It's a slap in the face of citizens.

 |  3-minute read |   12-01-2018
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In what should be seen as a ridiculous move on account of its timing, Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palanisamy tabled a bill that will nearly double the salary of members of legislators in the state, with effect from tomorrow. Their monthly salary will climb to Rs 1.0 lakh from the existing Rs 55,000, and arrears and pensions will be raised too. The entire exercise will cost the exchequer Rs 25,00,00,000 approximately, and comes at a time the Tamil Nadu government has stated it does not have enough funds to cover the 0.13 per cent difference in wages, as demanded by transport unions in the state.

To the utter dismay of Tamil Nadu’s citizens, the news of MLAs’ salary hike comes on a day the state is struggling in the aftermath of a bus strike called by the transport unions.

The Madras High Court has declared the strike illegal while ordering the government against the termination of agitating employees. At such a time, the Tamil Nadu Payment of Salaries (Amendment) Bill — giving a 90 per cent hike to MLAs — will do nothing less than infuriate the striking workers while bringing together unions and ordinary citizens against the government.

tamil-nadu-assembly_011118102957.jpgIn the backdrop of the current fiascos plaguing the government, the salary hike for MLAs resembles Nero playing Fiddle while Rome was burning. Photo: PTI

There is rising resentment among Tamil Nadu citizens as both the government and governance have largely been in tatters after the death of Jayalalithaa. The state’s handling of various crises and controversies — from Jallikattu to NEET to the Okchi cyclone — showed the government and the ruling party, the AIADMK, as weak.

RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy went as far calling the ruling party leadership “impotent”, incapable of taking stern action against inparty dissidents. Only recently, AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran won a thumping victory in the RK Nagar by-elections, humiliating the government and the opposition in the process.

Even E Madhusudanan — the losing candidate in the by-election — is today asking why no action has been taken against those who did not work hard for or worked adversely in the polls.

In the backdrop of the current fiascos plaguing the government, the salary hike for MLAs resembles Nero playing Fiddle while Rome was burning.

Dhinakaran and DMK leader MK Stalin, being the astute politicians they are, knew well to oppose the bill, citing the current situation in the state. “We are strongly opposing the draft which provides salary hike for MLAs. At the time of the crisis if this government passes the bill, people will laugh at us,” Stalin said.

Dhinakaran reiterated the DMK’s stance: “I oppose 100 percent hike to MLAs. If it is a reasonable percentage, it's fine. This is unnecessary when state is facing severe problems. I think this has been done to keep MLAs in good books in present situation.”

When the salary hike was planned on July 21, 2017, communist parties had criticised the proposal pointing out that farmer loans were not being waived, citing a weak treasury. Activist MG Devasahayam had pointed out that the government is not conscientious and has no concern for the people.

One can but hope sanity prevails.

Also read: Why Rajinikanth joining politics is perfect


Anand Balasubramanian Anand Balasubramanian @absaysthis

Writer is a man of letters who is passionate about his politics, environment and films.

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