The legislators’ pension, too, has been increased from Rs 12,000 to Rs 20,000 and the funds allotted to them for the development of their constituencies has also been pushed up from 2 crore to 2.5 crore.
While Mr Palaniswami said the hike had come in response to a demand by “a few Congress MLAs”, the DMK has slammed the move. Senior party leader TRB Raja said, “I’ll spend the hike in my constituency. This is AIADMK’ s strategy to keep their flock together”. Congress, a DMK ally, has eight legislators in the 232-member House.
The hike is still half that of neighbouring Telangana, where legislators get paid Rs 2 lakh. The hike, made in 2014, had also come amid a spate of suicide by the state’s farmers.
Around 40 farmers from Tamil Nadu have been on protest in Delhi, demanding loan waivers. A number of children – the youngest being three years old – are carrying the ashes of their fathers, who have committed suicide. The families say the men had been struggling with repeated crop failure and mounting loans.
The Delhi’s lawmakers, though, are the highest paid in the country, drawing a salary of Rs. 3.2 lakh plus various allowances. The four-fold hike cleared two years ago had drawn barbs from various quarters. Congress’s Amarinder Singh had called it “loot by legislation” and said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal turned the “self-proclaimed common man’s government into a plutocracy”.
But Mr Kejriwal had been unrepentant. He argued that his Aam Aadmi Party lawmakers did not make money through corruption and hence needed a substantial salary.