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OPINION | Will 4 Newcomers Raise the Bar for Nominated Members in Rajya Sahba?

A look at the performance of members nominated under the eminent citizens’ category reveals the exercise is becoming a huge waste of Parliament’s time and energy, not to mention its money.

Bhupendra Chaubey | CNN-News18bhupendrachaube

Updated:July 14, 2018, 4:30 PM IST
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OPINION | Will 4 Newcomers Raise the Bar for Nominated Members in Rajya Sahba?
(From left) RSS ideologue and author Rakesh Sinha, classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, former MP and Dalit farmer leader Ram Shakal, and stone artist Raghunath Mohapatra.
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New Delhi: The upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament will have four new faces. But these won’t be elected members. They have been nominated by President Ram Nath Kovind on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The entrants are former MP Ram Shakal, RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha, classical dancer Sonal Mansingh and stone artist Raghunath Mohapatra. Their pay and perks would be on par with their elected counterparts, but will their contribution be the same?

A look at the performance of members nominated under the eminent citizens’ category reveals the exercise is becoming a huge waste of Parliament’s time and energy, not to mention its money.

No ill-will to the newcomers, but the new cycle of nominations reminds of Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha’s fruitless stint in the Upper House.

The two celebrities barely spent any time in Parliament after being nominated in 2012. Sachin Tendulkar has a 7.3% attendance record in Parliament since he was made member, and Rekha, woefully, has attended only 4.5% sessions.

Since April 2012, when they were made members, as per records available till April this year, Tendulkar attended just 29 of the nearly 400 Parliament sessions. He asked just 22 questions and introduced 0 bills. The master batsman earned Rs 86.23 lakh as salary since his joining, which he said he was donating PM’s Relief Fund.

Rekha, since April 2012, attended just 18 sessions. She asked no questions and introduced no bills during her tenure. She earned Rs 99.59 lakh, or nearly a crore, as an MP.

Of the latest nominations, Ram Shakal, a farmer leader and a familiar face, can be seen as a factor ahead of 2019 elections. Rakesh Sinha may be being rewarded for his yeoman service to the RSS. But what can the others, talented as they may be, be seen doing in Parliament.

When there is so much of talk around rebuilding institutions and reforming the pillars of democracy, time has come to revisit the system of sending eminent people to the Upper House. It ends up being a mere tool in the hands of any ruling establishment to shore up its numbers in Parliament.

Eminent citizens should be honoured by all means. But how does entry into a House with acrimonious elections and sly political deals achieve that?
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