Lok Sabha MPs cutting across party lines brought the house to a standstill on Tuesday over the cabinet decision to defer bringing a bill to raise their salaries, forcing finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to do a volte face. Mukherjee said the government would try bring the bill in this session, and that the hikes would be effective from the current Lok Sabha.
The MPs erupted a day after the union cabinet deferred a decision on the proposed threefold hike from the existing Rs16,000 per month, apparently because the MPs are not in good odour with the public after repeated walk-outs and disruptions, and widespread allegations of scams in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games and elsewhere.
The rare unity among MPs did not surprise political watchers, as the normally fractious and divided MPs have always united in the past when voting themselves hikes in salaries and perks.
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav led the shouting brigade, and was soon joined by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, and many others, including Congress members, forcing speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the house.
Only the left MPs remained aloof, as their parties think parliament should not take the decision on the salary and allowances of MPs. They want an independent commission to do the job.
Meira Kumar tried to pacify the MPs, but they were in no mood to listen. She then adjourned the House till 2 pm. She also chose to remain neutral on the issue. ''When different opinions are there, it would not be proper for a Speaker, who is supposed to be neutral, to express her opinion,'' she told reporters.