Oppn Welcomes Salary Cut But Calls for Review on MPLAD Suspension
The announcement comes amid a worsening economic crisis in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To tackle worsening economic crisis in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union cabinet, in its meeting on Monday, 6 April, approved an ordinance to reduce allowances and pensions of Members of Parliament by 30 percent for one year, with effect from 1 April.
The Cabinet also approved temporary suspension of MPLAD Fund of MPs during 2020-21 and 2021-22 for managing health and adverse impacts of the pandemic in India.
The decision for reduction in allowances and pensions of the MPs was largely welcomed by the political leaders across the nation, however, the suspension of MPLAD funds drew criticism.
The Congress on Monday welcomed the government's decision to cut MPs' salaries to fight the battle against coronavirus, but said suspending MPLADs will undermine the role of an MP and called for its review.
"Dear PM, INC supports the salary cut for MPs. Please note that MPLAD is meant to execute developmental works in the constituency. Suspending it is a huge disservice to the constituents and will undermine the role and functions of MP," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wrote on Twitter.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel also welcomed the Centre's decision. He also suggested that the central government could save Rs 20,000 crores by scrapping Central Vista redevelopment project.
"As a Member of Parliament, I welcome the government's decision to cut salaries of MPs. In this difficult time, this is the least we can do to help fellow citizens," Patel said on Twitter.
"Apart from cutting salaries of MPs and ministers, the central government can save more than Rs 20,000 crore by scrapping the central vista redevelopment project & cutting down on non-COVID-19 publicity expenses," he also said.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the MPLADS needs to be restored, saying it’s a a knee-jerk reaction much like the lockdown and will hurt the poor the most.
Congress Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor welcomed the decision to cut salaries and pensions of MPs, but called the two-year suspension of MPLADS funds and pooling the funds into the Consolidated Fund of India “problematic”.
"Centre's decision to cut salaries & pensions of MPs is welcome. It's a good way for us to show solidarity w/people suffering across the country. But the Ordinance ending MPLADS funds for 2 years &pooling them into a Consolidated Fund run by the CentralGovt is problematic," the Congress leader wrote on Twitter.
The two-year suspension of MPLADS was also opposed by Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy, who called it " a whimsical undemocratic decision".
"I am opposed to suspension of MP LADS for 2 years. It is a whimsical undemocratic decision," Roy wrote on Twitter.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury called out the government on the decision to transfer the MPLAD fund to Consolidated fund of India instead of being directed towards fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
Supriya Sule on MPLAD Suspension
At least two MPs from the NCP and the Shiv Sena on Monday, 6 April, expressed divergent views on the centre's decision on salary cuts, and to divert MPLAD funds for two years to fund the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
NCP MP Supriya Sule, daughter of the party chief Sharad Pawar, has supported the move.
In an official tweet from her handle @supriya_sule, she said, "I support the reduction in the MPs salary. WRT the suspension of the MPLAD funds for a duration of two years, I hope that the entire amount of MPLAD funds contributed by all Maharashtra MPs of both houses, are deployed in our state with concurrence of the state administration towards the welfare of our citizens".
However, Sena MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency, Vinayak Raut, said, "There was no need to utilise the two years MPLAD fund when one year's fund was sufficient. We understand that the fight against coronavirus is important, but other facilities should not be deprived which an MP offers through his funds," he said.
‘Whimsical’: TMC on MPLAD Suspension
The Trinamool Congress on Monday, 6 April, lashed out at the BJP-led central government claiming that its decision to temporarily suspend the MPLAD scheme was "arbitrary and whimsical" as it would prevent MPs from carrying out developmental work in their areas.
The Union Cabinet and Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided on the issue without consulting all the parties, senior TMC leader and MP Sougata Roy said.
"The decision to temporarily suspend the MPLAD is arbitrary and whimsical. We are opposing it. The Union Cabinet and the prime minister are taking decisions pertaining to all the MPs without even discussing the matter with us," Roy, a veteran parliamentarian, told PTI.
BJP Leaders Hail the Decision
The BJP welcomed the Union government's decision, with its president JP Nadda asserting that national interest is supreme for his party.
"This decision of the Prime Minister is welcome on the day of the BJP's foundation day as the national interest is supreme for it. Everyone in the party is always dedicated to the service of the nation under the leadership of the Prime Minister," Nadda tweeted.
Nadda's tweets, however, made no mention of the decision to suspend MPLAD funds, a move unlikely to go down very well with parliamentarians.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah complimented Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Union Cabinet's approval for reduction of allowances and pension of all MPs by 30 percent, and said the Parliament of the world's largest democracy stands together in these challenging times.
"I congratulate PM @narendramodi ji, as cabinet approves the Ordinance for reducing allowances and pension of all MPs by 30% for a year. The Parliament of the world's largest democracy stands together in these challenging times. I thank all the parties and MPs for their support", he tweeted.
(With inputs from PTI)
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