Hyderabad: Telangana legislators are pushing for a substantial hike in their salaries and it was being considered by the TRS government but the demand was questioned by opposition Congress which on Tuesday dubbed it "shameful and insensitive" when farmers in the state were committing suicides.
The MLAs and MLCs have cited "grossly inadequate" pay package for their demand with senior Congress MP V Hanumantha Rao saying they are seeking a "200 percent" hike.
In the 119-member Telangana Assembly, the TRS has 76 MLAs while 15 are from Congress.
Deputy Chief Minister Mohammed Ali backed the demand of the legislators, saying there has been no increment in salaries since many years and that even opposition was also demanding it for a long time.
The government is examining the issue of increasing the salaries of MLAs and MLCs in view of their "grossly inadequate" pay structure, according to a government release.
TRS MP B Vinod Kumar said the salary being presently drawn by the MLAs is not enough even to meet basic needs.
"An MLA travels more than 100 km per day on an average. The salary of an MLA is Rs 12,500 and the salary of an MP is Rs 45,000 (excluding emoluments). The MLA has to meet a number of people every day for different occasions like marriages, deaths, inaugurations...For every MLA, 100 villages would be there in Telangana. The diesel and food expenses of staff are there.
"When you compare the salaries of legislators or Parliament members across the world, it is the least paid in India," he told PTI.
Several MLAs and MLCs have submitted representations in this regard to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and also Legislature Secretary in recent times, according to the release.
The legislators currently get Rs 95,000 per month and their salary bill, coupled with those with the cabinet rank, would be to the tune of Rs 14.94 crore per annum, it stated.
As per an estimate, around Rs three lakh is spent every month by the MLAs and MLCs to meet expenses, including paying for meals of their staff, providing financial assistance to different persons and also to attend various programmes in the constituency, the release added.
The salary hike issue would be debated further, the release said, adding a final decision is yet to be taken.
The release also referred to the recent approval by Delhi assembly for four-fold hike in basic salary and allowances of its members.
"When people are suffering, everyday farmers are committing suicide, unemployment problem is there, this summer season water scarcity is there, is this the right time to increase the salaries of MLAs and MLCs. Later, we can think it over.
"On one hand, you say that it is drought in Telangana but the Central government is not giving a single paise. How can you increase (salaries) at this time?" Rao said.
Rao's fellow MP Madhu Goud Yakshi said the demand for a hike is "seriously insensitive" and shameful.