Shimla: Irked over frequent walkout by opposition BJP and at finding the opposition benches empty at a time when amendment bills for increasing salaries of ministers, speaker, deputy speaker, chief parliamentary secretaries, legislators and pensions for former legislators were to be presented, chief minister Virbhadra Singh asked for withdrawing them.
Before the chief minister asked speaker BBL Butail to withdraw the bills, the government found itself cornered over passing of a bill about elections to cooperative societies as leader of the opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal contested that the objective of the bill to obtain power for appointing chairman’s to cooperative bodies was in contravention of 97 constitutional amendment.
Dhumal pointed out that constitutional amendment carried out by the UPA government was to ensure democratic functioning of the cooperative institutions for it forbade a nominated member to be appointed chairman or any office bearers with the cooperative society.
Finding reason in the arguments of the opposition leader at first chief minister relented to sending the controversial piece of legislation to the select committee but later retracted that an ordinance issued by the government in the matter would lapse and forced the house to decide the issue on number basis.
Before the speaker put the issue to vote, led by Dhumal the opposition staged a protest walkout.
Moving on with the house business for the day, as speaker Butail was intending to place the bills relating to increasing salary of house members, including ministers, speaker and deputy in the house, chief minister intervened and asked for withdrawing all four amendment bills.
Making a statement, Virbhadra said that the salary increase bills had been prepared in consensus with all members of the house, which included opposition members, but since the opposition had walked out, the government would not like to pass a legislation which would reflect that we are increasing our own salaries.
Old timers say that this is perhaps the first time in 50 years history of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha that a government of the day has withdrawn bills related to salary of house members, speaker, deputy speaker, ministers and pensions of former members..
One of the withdrawn bill had proposed to increase the salary of chief minister from Rs 39,000 to Rs 65,000, that of cabinet minister from Rs 36,000 to Rs 50,000; that of minister of state from Rs 33,000 to Rs 48,000 and that of deputy minister from Rs 32,000 to Rs 45,000 per month.
Besides the bill had also proposed to increase telephone allowance of ministers from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 and also permit a sumptuary allowance of Rs 30,000 per minister per month.
The bill related to salary of speaker and deputy speaker had proposed to increase the amount from Rs 36,000 to Rs 50,000 for speaker and from Rs 33,000 to Rs 45,000 to deputy speaker and telephone allowance was proposed to be doubled from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 besides permitting a sumptuary allowance of Rs 30,000 per month of them.
Another bill had proposed to increase salary of chief parliamentary secretary from Rs 23,000 to Rs 40,000 and that of parliamentary secretary from Rs 22,000 to Rs 35,000 per month.
The withdrawn bill related to salaries of MLA’s and formers MLA’s had proposed to increase salary of a sitting legislator from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000, an increase in telephone allowance was to go from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per member, constitutency allowance was to increase Rs 35,000 to Rs 60,000 and office allowance was to double from Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 per month.
Per month pensions of former legislators was to increase from Rs 18,000 to Rs 22,000 per month but the bill was withdrawn by the governme