Indian politicians do not want to retire
No voluntary retirement: Murli Manohar Joshi, L.K.Adwani and Yashwant Sinha
There are at least four reasons why Indian politicians do not want to retire from politics. They do not take voluntary retirement or ‘sannyas’ .
The first reason is that the work of an MP/MLA has gradually become less and less demanding. As against 677 sittings of the first Lok Sabha, the fifteenth had only 345 (69/ annum). On most of the occasions these sittings too were adjourned after an hour or so. Even on those few days, there is no need to trouble one’s mind or throat.
Secondly, an MP is member of the most elite club with lots of tax-free perquisites These perks include endless number of train journeys in AC first class (with one companion in a AC 2-tier), 34 air journeys per annum, free flat or a big bungalow with spacious lawn on nominal license fee in Lutyens’ Delhi. Several senior MPs have lived in such bungalows for decades and it may be heartbreaking to be deprived of such a luxury. No other democratic country gives so much perquisites to its elected representatives. In the UK, an MP who does not have his own house in London is given just fixed accommodation allowance.
Thirdly, as members of the elite club they they get VIP treatment everywhere.
Lastly, most of them are incapable of doing anything else. Most of our politicians claim to be “social workers”. In the 15th Lok Sabha more than 100 MPs had declared social and/or political work as their profession. Another about 145 had mentioned social work as one of their professions. In addition more than 100 claimed social work as one of their main interests. In other words, more than 350 MPs were full-time or part-time “social workers”. Can there be any place other than Indian Parliament for ‘social workers’?
In the western democratic countries, it is very uncommon to claim social work as profession. Only about half a dozen members of the House of Commons and only two members of the US House of Representatives (HOR) claim social work as their profession. Most of the members of the Commons and the HOR are professionals in different fields.
To be an MP in India is a very profitable “social work”. The average assets of 304 MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha who fought election in 2009 had increased by 300 percent. An Indian MP can continue to do his normal business/professional activities in addition to parliamentary work. Conflict of interest is not an issue. On the other hand, the members of the US Congress cannot earn more than 15% from outside of their Congressional salary.
Withdrawal of excessive perquisites, especially big bungalows, and restrictions on income from any source other than salary and allowances as legislator may end incentives to seek re-election after re-election. Unfortunately, it will remain a pipe dream.