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Row over MLA salary

Patna, July 30: The Rabri Devi government seems set for a battle of nerves with the governor over a bill seeking to increase legislators’ salaries.

The government today sent back the bill to M. Rama Jois’ office without making any changes to the proposed legislation. This, after the governor had sought clarification yesterday on the Bihar State Legislature (members’ salary, allowances and pension) Amendment Bill, 2003.

The cabinet had earlier approved the proposal to increase the salary and allowances of present and retired MLAs. The increase will cost the state exchequer a few hundred crore rupees.

The proposals went unopposed in the House except for an objection by Umadhar Prasad Singh, the only MLA of the New Democracy party. Singh said the increase would burden the already-tottering state exchequer.

“We have sent the bill in toto to the governor again for his favourable response…” said Ramchandra Purve, state minister for parliamentary affairs.

The bill is unlikely to face a hitch since it will be passed by the House with or without Jois’ consent.

The government has proposed a hike in the pension of legislators as well as allowances for recruiting an assistant. It also allows a telephone to be installed at the place the MLA stays in his constituency in addition to his residential phone.

This is the second time in three years that the Bihar government has secured cabinet approval for increasing the salary of legislators.

The governor questioned why an increase in MLA pensions from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 had been proposed. He also objected to the proposed Rs 5,000 allowance for recruiting an assistant. Jois pointed to Jharkhand where the allowance is a mere Rs 2,500.

The government got around the governor’s objections in 1999 as well when it passed a proposal for increasing legislators’ salaries.

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