Open Letter To PM: Why I Won’t #GiveItUp So Ministers Can Get ‘Free Phone Calls’

Posted on July 27, 2015 in Politics, Staff Picks

By Sanjana Chowdhury:

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Every time we open a newspaper or switch on the TV, we encounter your smiling face asking us to join the #GiveItUp Movement, apparently to “Be a Proud Partner in Nation Building”. What you’re asking us to ‘give up’ is the measly LPG subsidy that we are entitled to. But here is why I won’t.

Image source:
Image source:

Currently, an Indian household is entitled to get twelve 14.2 Kg cylinders of domestic cooking gas per year. At the subsidised rate, each cylinder costs Rs. 417.82 while the market price stands at Rs. 608.50 (for Indane Gas in Delhi). So, for each household the subsidy is Rs. 190.68 per cylinder and amounts to a measly sum of Rs.2,288.16 per year. As of now, each Member of Parliament gets a monthly salary of Rs. 50,000, constituency allowance of Rs. 45,000 and office expence allowance of Rs. 45,000, adding up to Rs.140,000. Surely, the government can spend Rs. 2288 for each household when it can pay each MP a whopping Rs. 1.4 lakh per month.

Each minute of a Parliament session costs us, the tax payers, Rs. 29,000. So while the politicians rage and create a ruckus, passing no legislations of value or even coming close to debating any, the money that’s wasted there is fine, while we must go on to give up the LPG subsidy. Why?

Our tax goes to feed the MPs

The Indian citizen is hard-put to pay his Income Tax, Service Tax, Property Tax, Value Added Tax and what-not, but the rich MPs have enjoyed an overwhelming subsidy of Rs 60 crores at the parliament canteens over the last 5 years alone. The Rangarajan committee has outrageously drawn the urban poverty line at Rs. 47 which, hilariously enough, can only be applicable if one is dining at the parliament canteen.

Evidently, the government believes it more worthwhile to spend Rs 200 crores to build a statue of Sardar Patel rather than provide Minimum Support Price MSP for farmers. While the nation clamours for One Rank One Pension for ex-servicemen, the government wastes money on celebrating Yoga Day, and trying to make a success out of the inefficient UID project.

And really, who are we “building the nation” for?

While the common man is constantly struggling to meet his bills, the government pays hundreds of crores on the Ministers and MPs. They receive amenities to travel in AC First Class by any railway in India on the strength of his ID card when every other Indian must pay Rs. 1203 for similar facilities for a 50 Km ride on the Rajdhani Express. They can travel by air, free of cost, and even get 34 free air journeys along with spouse or relatives but for the Indian citizen the lowest possible airfare is around Rs. 4000 (from Mumbai to Delhi).

The official website of Indian Lok Sabha states that, our MPs are entitled to license-free flats along with furniture worth Rs.60,000 throughout their terms of office. In addition to this, they receive free supply of 4000 Kl of water and 50,000 units of electricity per annum. Besides these facilities, they can have upto 3 telephones without paying installation or rental costs, and are entitled to 150,000 free calls from these telephones.

So all I want to ask is this, do we have to #GiveItUp so that our respected ministers can get free phone calls?

Respectfully, An Indian Citizen