Absentee Celebs in Rajya Sabha

Over the years celebrities from arts, sports, film and literature have been nominated to become members of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House. Apart from their charm and glamour, their absenteeism from the Rajya Sabha is the most talked about issue now. They are always under fire for not attending parliament sessions.

Who are nominated members of Rajya Sabha?

Under Article 80 of the Constitution, the Rajya Sabha is composed of not more than 250 members out of which 12 are nominated by the President of India. These are eminent personalities having a special knowledge in the fields of art, science, literature and social service.

Nomination has been put into practice to bring the most distinguished personalities into the Upper House who cannot face the tough elections. By doing so the State recognizes their talent and bestows honour on them. It is expected that with their knowledge and expertise they will enrich the debates of the House.

Just like elected members, nominated members enjoy all the privileges, powers and immunities. They attend the session. But they cannot vote in the election of the President of India.

Famous personalities from cinema nominated to Rajya Sabha

The Government of India honoured Prithviraj Kapoor with Padma Bhushan in 1969 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1971 for his immense contribution to Indian cinema. He remained a member of the Rajya Sabha for eight long years.

Nargis Dutt was the first actresses to get nominated to the Rajya Sabha. She was nominated to the House in 1980.

Vyjayanthimala, one of the most popular actresses, was nominated in 1993 on six years’ term to the Upper House.

The Government of India honoured Hema Malini with the fourth-highest civilian honour, Padma Shri. She was the member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and was nominated member by the party in the Rajya Sabha during 2003.

One of the finest actresses of India cinema, Shabana Azmi was nominated member of the Rajya Sabha in 1997.

Jaya Bachchan was nominated as the member of the Rajya Sabha in 2010.

Javed Akhtar, a poet, lyricist and scriptwriter was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2010.

Rekha and Sachin Tendulakar who were nominated in 2012 faced criticism for not attending the Rajya Sabha sessions. Since 2012 it was Feb 19, 2014 when she attended her last session. But recently because of media pressure she attended Tuesday’s Rajya Sabha session. Sachin was on leave.

If they want to remain absent, why do they get nominated then?

Cricketers and people from the film fraternity are the cynosure of all eyes but why do they remain absent? Why do they get nominated when they have no interest in attending the sessions?.

Shabana Azmi is probably the only celebrity who from the very first day started speaking out on various issues especially related to human rights violations and issues related to women and children. She attended every session of the Rajya Sabha with full preparation and hard work. In all other cases attendance itself has been a major casualty. In such cases how can we expect any contribution towards the working of the House and on any issue from them.

Going by the Rule – As per 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.

Selection procedure

At the time when Rekha and Sachin Tendulkar were nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2012 many questions and doubts were raised about the selection procedure. It was also argued that being a cricket legend is not sufficient to become a member of the Rajya Sabha. Sachin has attended just three sessions and Rekha five sessions so far.

Like any other member of the Upper House, nominated members also get Rs 5 crore every year for the development of their area but both the MPs have not spent even a single rupee from their fund for the development.

Apart from their status and contribution in their respective fields, should there be some additional requirements for the special people to become nominated members? Should they be regular attendees in the House or just honorary guest attendees? Or, should there be some special functions for the special people?