Panaji: Becoming a parliamentarian or a legislator is like "a cocaine", said Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who backed high salaries for lawmakers.
Parrikar was speaking during the concluding session of the 16th All India Whips' conference held at a South Goa resort late Tuesday.
"I have got guts to say that; once you become MP (Member of Parliament) or MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) you it's like a cocaine.... You can't do your business," Parrikar said, claiming that once a person becomes an elected representative, he loses every other avenue of income, which in turn made handsome salaries to lawmakers important.
"Once a person becomes MLA, he is virtually devoid of any other income unless he has a second business, a family business or a wife with a rich father," Parrikar said, adding that his research of US Senators' assets showed that many senators married rich.
Parrikar said that he had backed increased salaries for lawmakers despite criticism. "Those who criticize do not understand, because if you throw peanuts, you will get monkeys," Parrikar said.
The chief minister also said that every lawmaker spends as much as between Rs.50,000 to Rs.3 lakh on cash expenses on their respective constituents.
"In Goa, every MLA has a Rs.1 to Rs 2 lakh expense cash (every month)," Parrikar said, adding that often people walk up to elected representatives asking them for amounts as big as Rs.5,000, claiming they need the money to treat a sick person family member.
"If he is your voter, it is very difficult for you to say no. I think every MP or MLA will not have courage (to say it) they must be spending from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2 lakh to 3 lakh per month on (such) expenses," Parrikar said.
When the chief minister asked the 100 odd senior politicians present at the conference if he was right in calculating the cash expense, several lawmakers responded in affirmative.
"One lakh (rupees) seems a big figure to you. For a Goa MLA, it is not a big figure. Because everyone spends beyond (it)... I am not talking about expenditure for manpower or other things. I am talking about extra expenditure - Rs.2 lakhs. For any MLA. Where does he get the money? He pours his salary into it," Parrikar said, while backing higher salaries for parliamentarians too.
The Goa chief minister also said that it was wrong to describe allotment of bungalows, phones, plane tickets and cars to members of parliament as perks.
"If you don't give an MP a bungalow or a car how will he get to parliament?... A bungalow in Delhi is no big favour. It has to be given...Bungalow, telephone, ticket to travel to Delhi, these are necessities," Parrikar said.