BJP MP Varun Gandhi has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to start what he termed would be a “movement” to encourage the rich Lok Sabha members to forego their salaries for the remaining term.
“..my request to you Madam Speaker, is to initiate a movement aimed at the economically advantaged MPs, to forego our remuneration for the remainder of this 16th Lok Sabha,” two-time MP was quoted by Hindustan Times.
The Sultanpur MP said that the move would reinforce people’s faith in their representatives. “A voluntary exercise such as this would send a positive message across the nation regarding the level of sensitivity we possess as elected representatives,” he was quoted by PTI.
Gandhi also expressed concern over the widening inequality in the country, saying it was “detrimental” to democracy. His suggestion has come in the wake of an Oxfam report that said that only 1% of India’s rich controlled 73% wealth generated in 2017.
“India’s inequality gap is widening further every day. A growing divide is detrimental to our democracy and we as public representatives must be seen to be more responsive to the socio-economic realities of our country,” the letter read.
An average MP’s remuneration includes a basic salary of Rs 50,000 per month and constituency allowances of Rs 45,000 among other benefits. Gandhi said that the government spent close to Rs 2.7 lakh per MP per month.
There are 449 MPs in the parliament who are reported to own assets worth over Rs 1 crore. This is in sharp increase from 2009, when 319 MPs had assets over Rs 1 crore. Nearly 24% MPs have declared assets in excess of Rs 10 crore. And not to forget the steep hike of nearly 400% in the MPs’ salaries over the last decade.