No work, no pay: MPs divided on issue
Nearly half of parliament's winter session is over with no work done. Should MPs get paid for the days parliament is held up due to continuing bedlam?Mixed reactions have come from members on the suggestion of "no work, no pay" on days when Parliament conducts no business.
The winter session, which began Nov 22, has been paralysed for nine successive days over issues like price rise, black money and foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.
While Congress MPs Manish Tewari and Mukesh Gadhvi and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anurag Singh Thakur favour the idea of "no work, no pay", P.C. Chacko, chairman of the joint parliamentary committee looking into the 2G spectrum scam, believes the move is "against the democratic system". "The MPs are coming to parliament and doing their work. The opposition has a right to protest," said Chacko, adding that "a consensus is needed to end the logjam over foreign equity in retail".
Echoing similar views, senior journalist Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay said "no work, no pay is not a practical idea as democracy has a logic of its own."
Setting a trend, Tewari did not take his daily allowance (Rs.2,000) for the washed out winter session last year as the opposition stuck to its demand for a JPC probe in the 2G Spectrum scam. "Not only the daily allowance, salary of such MPs should also be deducted," he said.
Joining the ranks, BJP MP Anurag Singh Thakur has written a letter to Speaker Meira Kumar saying he won't accept his daily allowance for the days the house doesn't function in the ongoing winter session. "No work, no pay" may not prove to be a deterrent, but it "will certainly send a strong message across", feels Congress leader Mukesh Gadhvi.
When contacted, Communist Party of India MP Gurudas Dasgupta refused to comment.
However, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice examining the Lokpal bill, adopted the middle way on the issue. "All political parties can sit together and take a view on it," he said.
According to PRS Legislative Research, a policy study group, the two houses have already lost 96 hours' work of the scheduled 99 hours. Which means the two houses have sat for only three hours in the first nine days of their business.
Based on the annual budget allocation for parliament, Rs.2.5 crore is spent on both houses every day. Accordingly, the nine days of paralysis of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha can be assumed to have cost the exchequer Rs.22.5 crore.