Poor attendance of two celebrity Members of Parliament (MPs), cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood actor Rekha, came in for criticism from fellow parliamentarians on Friday. While Tendulkar, a nominated member, has attended the House on only three occasions, Rekha, also a nominated member, was present in the House for seven days.
CPI(M)’s P Rajeeve, who raised the issue, wanted to know whether they had sought permission for their long absence.
Both members were nominated to the Rajya Sabha during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2012.
Replying to the query, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said as of now there was no violation of the rules. “According to Article 104 of the Constitution, if a member is absent from either House of Parliament for a period of 60 days then the seat is considered vacant. In the case of Tendulkar, he has not attended the Parliament for 40 days whereas Rekha’s absence is less than this,” he observed.
Therefore, no rule had been flouted till date.
Intimating members about their attendance, Kurien said Tendulkar was nominated to the House in April 2012 and has attended the session for three days. “The last time he had come to the House was on December 13, 2013,” he said.
Kurien said Rekha had joined in April 2012 and has attended the session for seven days. “The last time she attended the House was on February 19, 2014.”
Lyricist Javed Akhtar also a nominated member himself, criticised the two celebrities and said membership of the Rajya Sabha was “not a trophy to be flaunted” but a responsibility.
Former cricketer and BJP Lok Sabha MP, Kirti Azad also attacked the duo questioning whether they were as lax with the commitments to their professional responsibilities.
In the past too, poor attendance of celebrity members in Parliament has been an issue. Singing legend Lata Mangeshkar who was the Rajya Sabha MP from November 22, 1999 to November 21, 2005 had attended only six out of over 170 sittings.