Loot unlimited

Loot unlimited

If the common man’s disgust at the shameless rapacity of the political class has manifested through spontaneous support for Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev’s movements across the country, Karnataka’s political leaders continue to behave that either they are blind, deaf and dumb or couldn’t care less about the mounting public anger against their behaviour.

Otherwise, how else can one explain the unconscionable 100 to 150 per cent increase in salaries and allowances the ministers and legislators gave themselves recently or the uncontrolled squandering of public money on the so-called Suvarna Soudha the state government is building in Belgaum?

Even as the opposition Congress and the JD(S) abdicated their responsibility of participating in the recent legislature session and made a mockery of the budgetary and legislative processes, the government had no qualms about introducing and getting approval for steep increases in the salaries and allowances of the chief minister, ministers, presiding officers and legislators.

The chief minister’s salary was hiked from Rs 12,000 per month to Rs 30,000, that of ministers from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 and of legislators from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000.

They also gave themselves hefty increases in sumptuary allowance, house rent, conveyance, travelling allowance, telephone expense, constituency allowance and so on. Is there any justification for increasing the entitlement for free petrol when the government refuses to reduce the tax burden on petrol sold to the ‘aam admi’?

Have the people’s representatives become so selfish and thick-skinned that they continue to fatten their privileges even when the common man is reeling under spiralling prices? The opposition, which was not a party to the decision — if it cared for public sentiment — should reject the Yeddyurappa government’s proposals and refuse to take part in the ‘loot.’

The escalation in expenditure for the Suvarna Soudha from Rs 187.07 crore initially to nearly Rs 400 crore now is another instance of the BJPgovernment’s mindless profligacy.

The PWD minister and officials of the department have gone ahead with reckless spending despite opposition by a former chief secretary and without even bringing the matter before the cabinet. Was such a grandiose building required at all for a short legislature session expected to be held once a year? The political class needs to reflect on why the people have rallied behind Hazare before it’s too late.

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