SHILLONG, March 27 – Legislators are listed fourth in the warrant of precedence in Meghalaya and comparing MLAs with teachers is like differentiating between potatoes and apples.
Independent legislator Manas Chaudhuri yesterday making a comparison between teachers and public representatives in the Assembly, said: “people ask me when teachers don’t get pension, why should MLAs get. I tell them because the difference between the two is like potatoes and apples.”
He said even though potatoes and apples have similar shapes they were not alike and the same applied to teachers and MLAs. He said MLAs’ grade was much higher than teachers as they come number four in the warrant of precedence after the Governor, Speaker, Chief Minister, Council of Ministers in the State.
Chaudhuri, who was Education Minister in the previous NCP-led MPA Government, came up with the comparison during introduction of the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya (Members’ Pension) (Amendment) Bill, 2011.
He was demanding higher pension amount for ex-MLAs and said the Rs 10,000 monthly pension and Rs 3,000 medical allowance was demeaning for the stature of MLAs who are public representatives.
The legislator demanded that through further amendments in the Bill the pension slab for ex-MLAs must be fixed at Rs 20,000 and Rs 5000 for medical allowance.
Deputy Chief Minister in-charge Parliamentary Affairs, Rowell Lyngdoh rejected Chaudhuri’s suggestion stating the new Bill has raised the pension amount from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 which was a 100 per cent increase. Moreover, the medical allowance was increased from Rs 750 to Rs 3,000.
He said the decision to raise the pension slab was taken by the Cabinet based on the recommendation of a Cabinet sub-committee. “The present pension of ex-MLAs is considered adequate and cannot be raised further,” Lyngdoh said.
Chaudhuri further pointed out the basic pay of sitting MLAs is Rs 5,000 and therefore the pension of MLAs cannot be more than the basic pay of sitting MLAs and insisted the Bill must be corrected.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma then intervened and said if required the basic pay of sitting MLAs would be rectified to avoid anomalies, but not the pension amount of ex-MLAs. The Bill was later introduced and passed by the House.