Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Rajya Sabha

Anna and Arvind part ways

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal have parted ways. The issue was political formation. Many in IAC wanted to form a political party to fight corruption. Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and some others were opposed to it. The meeting on 19/9/2012 lasted nine hours. Yogendra Yadav was the moderator. Anna Hazare said those who want to form a political party can go ahead with it but should not use his name or photograph. Arvind Kejriwal said Anna Hazare’s decision was shocking, unbelievable and sad.

Baba Ramdev and some other people wanted a split between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal was opposed to all political parties. Kiran Bedi was in favour of BJP. Arvind Kejriwal did not want to join with Baba Ramdev as there were tax evasion cases against him. RSS people wanted to use IAC against Congress. Industrialist Sitaram Jindal had a role in arranging meetings of Anna Hazare with people opposed to Arvind Kejriwal.

IAC had made corruption an issue and had raised hopes of corruption-free India. Jan Lokpal Bill was its demand. Congress came with a Lopkpal Bill that was not acceptable to IAC but was passed in Lok Sabha. Anna Hazare’s fast at MMRDA Grounds did not have expected crowds. The fast was to last three days. He called off his fast on second day. Congress managed to disrupt Rajya Sabha and the Lokpal Bill was not passed. Chairman Hamid Ansari played a role in allowing discussion till midnight and sabotaging the bill.

IAC demanded resignation of 15 ministers for corruption. The ministers did not oblige. Anna Hazare had a secret meeting with Salman Khurshid. IAC members were surprised when they came to know about it. Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai held fast at Jantar Mantar. Anna Hazare joined a few days later. The fast was called off on appeal by 22 persons. On the last day there was a decision to go political based on an SMS poll. Anna Hazare did not oppose it then.

Corruption is an issue. Congress is doing its best to divert attention from corruption. Coalgate became too hot to handle. Congress came with “reforms”. Soon coalgate was forgotten. TMC issued 72 hours deadline for rollback. Many parties opposed Congress and called for Bharat Bandh. After the deadline expired TMC announced withdrawal of support to UPA.

Fight against corruption is continuous process. Sometimes new challenges develop. Arvind Kejriwal was an RTI activist. RTI was instrumental in exposing corruption. Now two judges of the Supreme Court have made a mess of RTI by their verdict that only retired or serving justices of Supreme Court or chief justices of High Courts can head information commissions and half of the information commissioners should be judicial members. This verdict will create problems in fight against corruption.

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal may fight against corruption separately but it is not clear how effective they will be. It is time for Kumar Vishwas, Shazia Ilmi, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and other prominent IAC members to take sides. Shanti Bhushan is optimistic that they can win 2014 election. Yogendra Yadav thinks first election is to be lost, second election is to defeat, third election is to form government. In 2009 many people like Gopinath and Meera Sanyal contested as independents and lost.

To form government at centre, Arvind Kejriwal and others need to field 543 candidates and win 272 seats. Without 272 seats they will have to depend on others and make compromises. They should beware of moles who will pass on information and scuttle programmes. They should form a shadow cabinet and decide who will hold which portfolio if elected. Legislative Assembly elections are due in Gujarat and some other states before 2014. IAC members can test their strength during those elections. They need to take a stand against corporate debt restructuring. They need not take a stand against any issue unless it has something to do with corruption. They may take a stand against reservations in legislatures, government jobs and government-run educational institutions or avoid it.

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.

Rajya Sabha and reservation for women

On 9/3/2010 Rajya Sabha passed women’s reservation bill 186-1. Before that seven members were suspended. They refused to leave the house and marshals lifted and carried them out. BSP members walked out. TMC members abstained. BSP and TMC are headed by women. Congress, BJP and Left Front had issued whips in favour of the bill.
On 26/2/2010 when budget was presented members of all opposition parties had walked out in protest against the rise in petrol and diesel prices. If the intention of passing the bill was to break opposition unity the government succeeded.
Interestingly in the bill Rajya Sabha does not have reservation for women.
During TV discussions some people who favoured women’s reservation mentioned that Pakistan has 27% reservation for women and Afghanistan 20%. Do these people want India to end up like Pakistan and Afghanistan which have many terrorists? Possibly the reservations are one reason for terrorism. Men who could have become legislators were deprived of their chance and took to guns. In that case India with 33% reservation can become worse than Pakistan.
Some women said men do not share power. Politics is not charity. You have to fight for your space and get it. Women in politics do not share power. Once Rita Bahuguna said something nasty about Mayawati.
No constitutional amendment has the right to alter the basic structure of constitution. Women pay less Income Tax than men. Seats are reserved for women in city buses. Some Supreme Court lawyer should file a petition against such injustice to men.
If women’s reservation becomes a reality many will have to change their constituencies at least once. Lal Krishna Advani will not be able to contest from Gandhinagar. Rahul Gandhi will not be able to contest from Amethi. Some women who are presently legislators and did not have women opposing them will have women opponents.

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