Kolkata: The legislative team of the BJP in West Bengal Assembly on Thursday vehemently opposed the announcement by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to hike in the salaries of all ministers and MLAs by a whopping Rs 40,000 a month.
After the hike, the monthly payment received by the legislators, including salary, allowances and perks, will now increase to Rs 1.21 lakh from the current Rs 81,000. Similarly, the monthly payment received by ministers, including salary, allowances and perks, will go up from the current Rs 1.10 lakh to Rs 1.50 lakh.
“We are against receiving this enhanced salary. Our legislative team has met Governor C.V. Ananda Bose and requested him not to give assent to the proposal for salary hike for ministers and MLAs that was passed on the floor of the House on Thursday,” leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari said after coming out of the Raj Bhavan.
“We have been demanding ‘equal pay for equal work’ for the contractual state government employees. But that demand has constantly been ignored by the state government. We have also been demanding enhanced dearness allowance for the state government employees at par with their counterparts in the Central government. But the state government has repeatedly approached different courts to avoid that.
“So we are against this enhanced pay for ministers and MLAs. Rather, we want that money to be utilised for the welfare of the people of the state,” Adhikari said.
This is not the first time that the Trinamool Congress-led regime has increased the financial perks for the ministers and MLAs. As per the records of the state finance department, during 2010-11, the last year of the 34-year Left Front rule in West Bengal, the total expenditure of the state exchequer on account of salaries and other allowances to minister and legislators was little over Rs 4 crore. This amount had increased to Rs 52 crore by the end of the last financial year of 2022-23.
P.K. Mukhopadhyay, a professor of economics, said: “During the previous regime, the salaries etc. were abysmally low and even now they are quite low when compared to the other major states of the country. Probably such questions would not have been raised had there been at least some parity between the dearness allowances received by the state government employees and their counterparts in the Union government.
“It is not that the salaries and entitlements of ministers and legislators were hiked in the recent past. Significant time has passed since the last hike was implemented. But these questions were never raised before. There are surely reasons why these questions are being raised now.”