Well, the Rajya Sabha elections are over. Most of the candidates had already been elected unopposed. Thanks to political manoeuvring, voting was held to elect 16 members to Rajya Sabha in four states. Political manoeuvring is nothing new in Indian politics. Each party tries new formula to queer the pitch and pull the rug from under the feet of the opponents. Just the same happened this time. So congratulations from the bottom of my heart to all those who have won. I hope all these newly-elected members will play an important role in enhancing the dignity of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament. I have been a member of the Upper House for 18 years. I know that the Rajya Sabha has always been represented by the intellectuals.
I will not discuss the reasons for defeat and victory and the politics behind it here. Rather I want to discuss why anybody from a state is nominated to Rajya Sabha from outside that state? Of course, the idea behind the formation of the Rajya Sabha was to ensure proper representation of the states in it. Those who cannot enter the Lok Sabha by contesting elections directly, but those who are needed should be sent to the Rajya Sabha. Along with this, the President has been given the right to nominate 12 expert members so that the government could use their expertise. But it has been seen that the political parties are playing with the very concept of the formation of Rajya Sabha; especially what the Congress has done this time is very reprehensible.
Of course, there are some leaders in every party who are needed at the central level and it is necessary to get them to the Rajya Sabha. For example, Congress got Dr Manmohan Singh elected from Assam. There are more such examples. No questions are asked when a person holds merit. But what do you say when the central leadership starts sacrificing state leaders to accommodate the sycophants? Maharashtra leader Mukul Wasnik was given a ticket from Rajasthan, not Maharashtra. Should the party not have fielded him from Maharashtra? Why did Imran Pratapgarhi of Uttar Pradesh get a ticket from Maharashtra? In fact, when there was a talk of fielding Imran Pratapgarhi from Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot made it quite clear that “we do not want to conduct Mushaira and Qawwali here”. So did the central leadership get only Maharashtra for Pratapgarhi? Let me make it clear that I have no dislike towards anyone. I am only talking about merit. While giving ticket, did the party forget that his security deposit was forfeited in the Lok Sabha elections! Getting the blessings of a big and powerful leader of the party can never be a measure of merit. I can understand the need to bring Randeep Surjewala to Rajya Sabha but why was Pramod Tiwari from Uttar Pradesh sent to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan or Rajeev Shukla from Chhattisgarh? I would like to make it clear that Rajeev Shukla is my friend but I am analysing without any discrimination. The question is why the leaders who worked hard and brought the Congress to power in Chhattisgarh were ignored? Though no one may have protested, there is no doubt that Congress MLAs in all the states are very angry with this approach. That is the reason why the MLAs were kept hidden like brides at many places!
The result is that Congress sacrificed one of its senior leaders Ajay Maken. Had he been nominated from Maharashtra, his victory would have been certain. Well, this is not the first time. When I contested the Rajya Sabha elections as an independent, the Congress high command’s confidante and former governor R D Pradhan was defeated. I do not understand why Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, who have been the strong voices of Congress in Rajya Sabha, were not given tickets? Is raising voice within the party a crime? Congress should understand that Imran Pratapgarhi can never become a substitute for Azad Saheb.
There is a saying that when a ship starts sinking, people run away with whatever they can grab. This is what is going on in Congress right now. The party is shrinking fast. When the party had some seats for Rajya Sabha, people thought why not take it for 6 years, for who knows what will happen after that. Whether we will survive or not! And it’s not just about this time. If we look at the example of the last one decade or so, it is clear that the sycophants are ruling the roost in Congress. Analyse and see the difference between how Congress distributed tickets and how meticulously the BJP did it. You will clearly see that Congress is in the grip of sycophants, while the BJP pays more attention to the political equation. I do not talk about Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, because their behaviour remains like that of a private limited company. They always need a lawyer. Sometimes they want Ram Jethmalani and sometimes someone else… who can keep fighting their cases.
By the way, these parties have also understood that nepotism cannot work. Earlier, many people from their families used to go to Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, but now they too have started giving tickets to deserving people outside their families. Unfortunately, Congress does not understand this. Congress is not even able to understand that distributing largesse to the leaders and sycophants without a mass base is like cheating the entire party! May God protect Congress!
The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.
The strange approach of the Congress in giving candidature during the Rajya Sabha elections reminds me of these lines: “Chaapluso ki nikli hai baraat, jhel sako to jhelo yaaron!” I don’t understand why Congress gave tickets to outsiders by disregarding the rights of leaders from the state. When will Congress mend its ways?