Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Rajya Sabha nominations

Rajya Sabha nomination is not an award or a prize or a title. Article 80 of the constitution prescribes that a person to be nominated to Rajya Sabha should have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service.

Over the years many people have been nominated to Rajya Sabha in violation of the constitution. Mani Shankar Aiyar lost Lok Sabha election, he was nominated. Kuldip Nayyar was a journalist. Fali Nariman was a lawyer. Chandan Mitra, Shobhana Bhartia and Cho Ramaswamy were journalists.

Some qualified for nomination but did not know the importance or responsibility of Rajya Sabha membership. Lata Mangeshkar treated it as an award. Maqbool Fida Husain did not know nominated members did not have the right to vote in presidential election.

Now there is news that Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha and Anu Aga are nominated to Rajya Sabha. Rekha qualifies for her special knowledge or practical experience in art. Sachin Tendulkar and Anu Aga do not qualify. There is no provision for nomination in sport, law, journalism or business. Sport is not art. Journalism is not literature.

Sachin Tendulkar was the surprise choice. On 26/4/2012 Rajiv Shukla took him to meet Sonia Gandhi, ostensibly because Sonia Gandhi wanted to congratulate him on 100th 100. Soon came the news of nomination. The file of nomination moved from prime minister to home minister to president who signed it. Congress was having bad time. On 24/4/2012 it had to suspend its eight Telangana MPs from Lok Sabha for four days. On 25/4/2012 S&P cut its outlook on India from stable to negative. Bofors was back. On 26/4/2012 BJP attacked Congress in Parliament over Bofors. Once the news of Sachin Tendulkar came out that was the main topic on TV channels. Bofors, RISAT, Jhina Hikaka’s release and other matters lost their importance.

There was talk of Sachin Tendulkar getting Bharat Ratna. Sport was not a category for which Bharat Ratna was given. Criterion was changed so that Sachin Tendulkar may get Bharat Ratna. However there were demands for Bharat Ratna for many people. Some people said Dhyan Chand should be the first sportsperson to get Bharat Ratna. When Republic Day came there was no announcement of Bharat Ratna. Sports Ministry is said to have mentioned the names of Dhyan Chand, Tenzing Norgay and Abhinav Bindra but not of Sachin Tendulkar. Sports Ministry said BCCI did not recommend his name. BCCI said we thought government gives Bharat Ratna. Later Maharashtra government recommended Sachin Tendulkar’s name but the government of India did not announce Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar.

Sanjay Manjrekar said he was shocked Sachin Tendulkar accepted the nomination. Some wondered what he will do in Rajya Sabha. He has not retired from cricket. Will he find time to attend Rajya Sabha? It may happen that on a TV channel half screen will show live telecast of Rajya Sabha debate and other half will show live telecast of Sachin Tendulkar playing in a cricket match. Some fans did not want Sachin Tendulkar in Rajya Sabha. Some fans wanted him to join Rajya Sabha later.

Rekha’s nomination is curious. Jaya Bachchan had returned to Rajya Sabha after two years. Sonia Gandhi does not like her. Some years back Congress had got her disqualified on office of profit issue. That had boomeranged and Sonia Gandhi had to resign as MP and chairperson of NAC. Later a bill was passed to make many offices not offices of profit. Amitabh Bachchan was happy that Lindstrom had said there was an attempt to frame him in Bofors case. He had held a press conference and had appeared on TV channels.

Many businessmen have made it to Rajya Sabha by paying money to party presidents or MLAs. Recently a Rajya Sabha election was countermanded because around two crore rupees were found in a car and that money was meant to be payment to MLAs. Now we have nomination of a businesswoman to Rajya Sabha.

Article 80 does not say eminent citizens are to be nominated to Rajya Sabha. If challenged in courts many nominations will be struck down as unconstitutional.

Rajya Sabha should be abolished. That will save time and avoid duplication. Lok Sabha should have at least one representative per million people. India’s population being 121 crores as per 2011 census the strength of Lok Sabha should be 1210. If Parliament House cannot hold that many members Lok Sabha sessions should be held elsewhere.

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