MPs will have to wait for a hike in their salaries and allowances as a decision on a proposed three-fold increase was deferred on Monday by the Union Cabinet because of differences among its members.
Against the backdrop of strong demands by the MPs, the issue was discussed at the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Due to this deferment, the bill in this regard is unlikely to be tabled in Parliament during the current session.
The issue is expected to resonate in Parliament tomorrow with the proponents of pay hike across parties threatening to raise it strongly.
At the Cabinet meeting, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and Overseas Minister Vayalar Ravi opposed the move, on the ground that it would be improper to raise the salaries and allowances of the MPs at the moment as inflation is already high and people are facing difficulties, sources said.
Ravi was the most vocal opponent of the move and Chidambaram and Soni supported him.
The dissenting Ministers also referred to the farmers' suicide and allegations of corruption in Commonwealth Games while making the point that the hiking the salaries of MPs in these circumstances would be seen in the bad light, sources said.
However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, whose ministry has cleared the proposal, supported the pay hike. As Leader of the Lok Sabha, he favoured the increase in salaries to reflect the sentiments of its members, the sources said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who has mooted the proposal, also spoke in support of the hike.
Others who supported the move were HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.
Sibal said the situation warranted a hike in salaries of the MPs considering increase in prices of everything.
MPs currently get Rs 16,000 per month as salary and there have been demands for raising it to over Rs 80,000, the wages a Secretary to the government gets.
This much hike was disfavoured and the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry suggested an increase to Rs 50,000.
Besides the base salary, an MP gets a daily allowance of Rs 1000 for each day when Parliament is in session or a sitting of a House committee is scheduled. A member is also allowed for a constituency allowance of Rs 20,000 per month and office expense allowance of another Rs 20,000 each month.
These apart, he is also entitled to a certain number of air journeys, AC first class train travel, rent free flat or hostel accomomdation through out the term of his house.
The recommendation to increase MPs' salary was made taking into account consumer price index and the wage index for skilled urban labour.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee headed by Congres MP from Chhattishgarh Charandas Mahant had made a recommendation to fix MPs salary at Rs 80,001, Re one more than that of a secretary.
The panel which took the decision included MPs from various parties including S S Ahluwalia from BJP, V Maitreyan of AIADMK, Rajiv Shukla from Congress and Ramgopal Yadav from Samajwadi Party.
However, the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry suggested making it Rs 50,000. PTI