Gandhinagar: Cutting across party lines, the Gujarat legislators on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill in the State Assembly proposing to hike their salaries by at least Rs 45,000 a month with retrospective effect from February this year.
Accordingly, the monthly salary of the MLAs will be increased to Rs 1.16 lakh from the existing Rs 70,727, a rise of about 64 per cent, while those of the Ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Leader of Opposition will go up to Rs 1.32 lakh from Rs 86,000, an increase of about 54 per cent.
The revised salaries come into retrospective effect from February with a disbursal of Rs 6 crore in arrears. The new remuneration structure will put an extra burden of Rs 10 crore annually on the state exchequer.
Minister of State for Home and Parliamentary Affairs Pradeepsinh Jadeja, who introduced the Bill in the House, justified the hike stating that the salaries of lawmakers in most other states was much more than those in Gujarat where the last increase came 13 years ago in 2005.
Opposition Congress MLAs also did not hesitate from supporting the salary revision. "What is wrong in that? When everybody's salaries have been raised, why should there be a problem if our pay is hiked? We too have to look after our children and run our homes," asserted Congress legislator Niranjan Patel. He went a step further to demand that the lawmakers be compensated for the "unbearable fuel prices hike".
Congress Chief Whip in the Assembly Ashwin Kotwal said the Congress supported it because the salaries were last revised 13 years ago.
Firebrand Independent Dalit MLA Jignesh Mewani said: "It is obvious...every legislator, including myself, is glad. But I have a rider, what about salaries of ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers as well as mid-day meal and contractual sanitation workers? I will bring a private member bill about this in the next session of the Assembly."
After tabling the Salaries and Allowances of Members, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Gujarat Assembly, Ministers and Leader of Opposition Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018, Jadeja informed the House that the salary of MLAs in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly had not been revised since 2005, while the remuneration of their counterparts in other states was comparatively much higher.
For instance, the salaries of legislators in states like Uttarakhand, Telangana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra were Rs 2.91 lakh, Rs 2.50 lakh, Rs 2.25 lakh and Rs 2.13 lakh, respectively.
It is only in Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Odisha that the salaries of lawmakers are just over Rs 1 lakh, comparable to the remuneration the Gujarat MLAs would now get.