Rising prices, inflation, middle-class struggles with savings to buy a house and academic dreams abridged due to lack of funds…. these are stories that never go out of circulation. Worse still, the escalating costs have added more numbers to the script.
However, on the other side, elected representatives of the people are hardly a picture of their electorate. And the ongoing budget session will vouch for the same.
A look at the luxury cars of MLAs outside the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha during the budget session suggests how far they have come from their early days of travelling in state transport buses. Barring lone MLA from Kadi, BJP’s Karsan Solanki, who travels by a state transport bus, the others ride their BMWs, Toyota Fortuners and KIAs to discuss on people’s problems in the House.
Their cars romp it up right till the porch, leading into the Assembly. Cutting across party lines, all MLAs whether from BJP or Congress, own expensive big cars. All cars have big plaques near the license plate mentioning “Gujarat MLA.”
Some ministers make use of the entitled-to government cars, mostly white Innovas, some fitted with red beacons.
The current Assembly has many first-time MLAs also being chauffeured in swanky cars. For instance, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who won on a BJP ticket, is driven around in his Fortuner. Even other young leaders like Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani are seen in upmarket models.
MLAs are entitled to a petrol allowance of Rs 11 per km for petrol cars and Rs 10 in case of diesel. They are given allowance every fortnight during the Assembly session and for each Vidhan Sabha meeting. They are also entitled to free travel on state transport-owned buses with their spouse and two other members. But barring Solanki, no one else uses the government bus service.
Karsan Solanki, elected for the second time from Kadi constituency, says he is a farmer. “I don’t need a car. There is a straight bus service from my place to Gandhinagar. It drops me at Gate No. 6 from where I walk down to the House. I was an office-bearer of the nagarpalika also for four years, and at that time also I never used a government vehicle.”
Asked about the expensive cars that others use, he said with a smile, “It is their choice.”
MLAs’ Salary and Perks
Salary: Rs 1,36,000 per month
Telephone charges: Rs 7,000 per month
Postal and stationery charges: Rs 5,000
Personal assistant allowance: Rs 2,000
Daily allowance: Rs 1,000
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