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  India   Politics  11 Jan 2018  Bill to double Tamil Nadu MLAs’ pay sparks furore

Bill to double Tamil Nadu MLAs’ pay sparks furore

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jan 11, 2018, 1:52 am IST
Updated : Jan 11, 2018, 2:49 am IST

The strike by the transport workers was on its seventh day on Wednesday.

Edappadi K. Palaniswami
 Edappadi K. Palaniswami

CHENNAI: A major controversy broke out on Wednesday after Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami tabled a bill in the Assembly that paves the way for almost doubling the salary of MLAs, evoking strong opposition from the DMK which questioned the “timing”.

The bill proposes that the salary of the state’s 235 legislators be raised from Rs 55,000 to Rs 1.05 lakh per month at a time when it has refused a salary hike demanded by striking state by transport employees bus workers, citing losses incurred by the state transport corporations. The strike by the transport workers was on its seventh day on Wednesday.

The MLA’s salary hike, if implemented, is expected to cost the state exchequer an additional Rs 25.32 crore per year. The Tamil Nadu Payment of Salaries (Amendment) Act, 1951, once passed, will come into effect retrospectively from July 2017.

Activists and political analysts were unanimous in saying that the “timing of tabling the bill” was “quite bad” since it has been introduced in the midst of the strike by transport employees. The bill also brought the DMK and independent MLA T.T.V. Dhinakaran together in opposing the bill.

When Mr Palaniswami introduced the bill in the Assembly, DMK member Sakkarapani opposed the timing and connected it with the transport strike.

Speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, Opposition leader M.K. Stalin said the government should have avoided tabling the bill during the session as it had admitted on the floor of the House that it has no money to pay the striking transport employees.

“What is the need to hike the salary now? People will laugh at this hike when transport workers are on strike for a salary hike. Our MLA Sakkarapani opposed the bill at the introduction stage itself and the DMK will oppose the bill,” he said.

AIADMK rebel Mr Dhinakaran also spoke on similar lines saying he would oppose the bill. “Salary hike for the MLAs is needless when the government has no money to pay transport workers. I would oppose the amendment tabled in the Assembly,” he said.

“Tamil Nadu MLAs’ pay is much lower than that of MLAs in many other states. So hiking their pay is fine. Issue is the timing. When transport workers are demanding their arrears, some from 2013, why introduce this pay hike bill? Could it not have waited 1 month for Budget session of Assembly?” political commentator Sumanth C. Raman wrote on his Twitter page.

Tags: edappadi k. palaniswami, t.t.v. dhinakaran
Location: India, Tamil Nadu, Chennai (Madras)