NEW DELHI: A day after calls by some AAP MLAs for a hike in their allowances, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party today appeared divided over the matter.
Sanjay Singh, a senior AAP leader and member of its Political Affairs Committee -- the party's top decision-making body -- said it was not proper to demand a hike when distressed farmers were committing suicide in the country.
"When so many farmers in the country are committing suicide, at this point of time, it is improper to ask for a hike," said Singh, who has also criticised a proposal for a hike in MPs' salaries.
Another AAP MLA, Pankaj Pushkar, who had openely sided with expelled leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, said, "An MLA's office isn't supposed to be a coffee house. It is completely inappropriate to demand a hike. Various sections of society are undergoing problems of different sorts."
On the other hand, while he did not echo the hike demand, former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti pitched for more services to be extended to the MLAs rather than monetary allowances.
"Now, I have four offices in four wards. There is an expenditure on them -- the staff, the calls I make. Everyday, around 150-200 cups of tea is served in my offices to the people who come.
"The help to the MLAs may not be monetary, but it could be through providing services. For example, give them office spaces, provide them with free calls, electricity. That will reduce the burden on them," the Malviya Nagar MLA said.
Several AAP MLAs have asked Delhi government for a hike in their allowances as they cited difficulties in meeting their expenses. The call has evoked a sharp response from opposition parties.