Jammu and Kashmir is trying to make its assembly paperless – and to aid it, has given i-Pads to all its 89 members. But with each i-Pad costing Rs. 50,000, the programme has been caught into the crosshairs of opposition, which claims the money could have been better spent. Few of the opposition members, however, have returned the i-Pads. The only known case is former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who handed in his i-Pad.
The latest gift comes six months after the legislators were given a whopping jump in salary. From Rs. 80,000 a month, the salaries of legislators were hiked to Rs. 1.6 lakh.
“Rather than giving gifts to legislators, the government should help the deserving people,” said Javed Rana, Mr Abdullah’s colleague in National Conference.
The opposition has said issues like compensation for the border firing victims should be the government’s priority. Over the last two years, 26 people were killed and 158 injured in cross-border firing in the state.
“Those affected by border shelling are getting nothing. I think there were other things which are more important for this government to take up,” Mr Rana said.
The state government, though, says the gift could greatly improve performance of the assembly. “It is the first step towards making Jammu and Kashmir assembly paperless”, said Speaker Kavinder Gupta.