The much talked about bill to hike salaries of the Members of Parliament (MPs) by over three times from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000, and doubling two of their key allowances to Rs 40,000 each was passed in Lok Sabha on Friday.
During the debate on the Salary, Allowance and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2010, a strong demand was made for setting up an independent body to decide on their future pay.
As many as 10 members participated in the discussion on the bill and the demand for such a body was voiced by senior BJP leader L K Advani, who was supported by other members.
Replying to the debate, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said, "There is a need for setting up a mechanism for revision of members' salary and pension. But wider discussions are required for that and it would be sent to a parliamentary committee."
The bill proposed to raise the daily allowance of members from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 and the constituency and office expense allowances each from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000.
It also sought to enhance pension of former members from Rs 8,000 to Rs 20,000 with effect from the constitution of the present Lok Sabha on May 18 last year.
The Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowances of MPs headed by Congress member Charandas Mahant had recommended a hike in salary from Rs 16,000 to Rs 80,001 - one rupee more than that of the Secretary to the Government of India.
Bansal said, "We are not government servants. We should not try to compare ourselves with government servants. We should not take daily allowance on those days when Parliament does not function.
"There is growing cynicism about politicians among the people and therefore we need to take this issue of setting up mechanism for members' salaries and pension revision to a committee for wider discussions."
As the House took up the bill for discussion, the Left parties protested, saying the MPs should not seek a salary hike at a time when people were facing burden due to inflation and spiralling prices of essential commodities.
Ram Chandra Dome (CPM) said the bill should not be taken up until the special mechanism was set up.
Later, opposing the Bill, Left members staged a walk out.
RJD member Raghuvansh Prasad Singh's amendment seeking Rs 25,000 per month pension for former MPs instead of the proposed Rs 20,000 was rejected by the House.