Sundeep Bhutoria

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Indian politics

Elections to fill up few of the Rajya Sabha seats are due in some states. The Upper House or `Council of States’ was originally meant for people who were adepts in their field and could thus contribute their expertise to the nation building process. After 60 years as a Republic, Indian politics has come to such a state where bagging a Rajya Sabha seat has become the target of politicians who could not make it to the Lok Sabha or those who lack grass root support to win elections.
Everybody knows how money plays an important role in getting seats where the support of the MLAs from more than one party is required. This can also be gauged from the fact that there is a trend among the industrialists to use their money to get Rajya Sabha seats without any political or social background.
In the early 80s, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had once said that he would not allow the state of Rajasthan to become a road to the Rajya Sabha for outsiders. This trend had started in 1980 when the Rajasthan Congress fielded Rajesh Pilot. The BJP also started giving tickets to outsiders like Bengaru Laxman, his wife Sushila as well as to Najma Heptulla. Even now and this time the party is giving ticket to Ram Jethmalani who actually wanted to be a candidate from Madhya Pradesh. This trend of bringing in outsiders as candidates is not confined to Rajasthan only and applies to all the other states and parties. In Bengal we have the example of Brinda Karat. The Congress has given ticket to Mohsina Kidwai from Chattisgarh while she is from Uttar Pradesh. Jairam Ramesh, who is from Tamil Nadu, got a ticket from Andhra Pradesh. Chandan Mitra, who is from Bengal, got a ticket from Madhya Pradesh. Has anybody ever spared a thought as to how someone from another state can represent the problems of another state in the Parliament. I do not believe in regionalism but I strongly feel that the Rajya Sabha decorum is on the decline.
Today evening I heard that Santosh Bagrodia might file his nomination with the support of Independent MLAs from Rajasthan. I think, as a strategy and true to his reputation, this is a masterstroke from Ashok Gehlot. Currently Rajasthan Congress can get two full term Rajya Sabha MP, one half term MP and for the fourth seat they will still have extra 21 votes apart from Independent and other MLAs from smaller parties who support the government in the assembly.
While the BJP needs the support of just three more MLAs to get one more seat apart from the one confirmed as per their assembly strength. Since Ram Jethmalani is famous for the so-called jor tor, BJP has given him the extra ticket. The buzz is that one big industry house of the country is backing him. These types of seats normally go to industrialists who can manage two parties. Santosh Bagrodia, known for his contacts with the industrialists and the acumen for jor tor, is on a similar wicket as Jethmalani.
I don’t know about Jethmalani or Santosh Bagrodia, who is a member of my extended family, but apart from Anand Sharma, Narendra Budhania and Ashq Ali Tak from Congress and V P Singh, ex-MP from Bhilwara, are all set to go to the Rajya Sabha from Congress and the BJP.
Both Budhania and Ashq Ali Tak are well known to me since my school days. Both of them are from my native region Shekhawati. Budhania represented the Churu district in Lok Sabha and when he became the MP for the first time I organised a Muharram function with him in my house of birth at Churu (picture).
Ashq Ali Tak was an MLA from Fatehpur and has also served the Government of Rajasthan as a minister. He too has attended and jointly organised many functions with me (file picture: Ashq Ali Tak, Rajendra Choudhry the then minister Govt of Rajasthan, Jai Singh Kothari of Rajasthan Patrika, Arun Agarwal and others).
Jai Maroo, an industrialist and man behind entertainment firm Shemaroo, also got a ticket from Jharkhand where he has had to manage India’s two major political parties. As for Anand Sharma, it has been reported that the local Congressmen from Maharashtra had opposed him. Also, the Congress cannot fully trust their alliance in the state. At his home state Himachal Pradesh, Sharma has to wait for another four months. It widely felt that it suited Gehlot to bring him to Rajasthan to counter the rise of C P Joshi in national politics and state affairs.
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