Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
More nominated members joining parties now: RS data
In the long history of the Rajya Sabha, its nominated members have periodically joined political parties — with the trend becoming stronger in recent years, during which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has seen the most nominated MPS join it.
Since 1952, 28 of 138 nominated members have joined either the Congress or the BJP and given up their nominated status, according to data available with the Rajya Sabha secretariat; 15 of them joined the Congress and 13 joined the BJP. The numbers stack up in favour of the Congress given its long stints in power.
In the last seven years, 9 nominated members joined the BJP including Sonal Man Singh, Shakal Ram, Gopi Suresh, Rakesh Sinha and Raghunath Mohapatra. During the previous NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 3 MPS, Hema Malini, Narayan Singh and Dara Singh, joined the party.
Even Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is now in the Congress, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in April 2016 and subsequently chose to join the BJP -but he quit the Rajya Sabha in
July after he parted ways with the BJP.
The Indian Constitution says 12 people “having special knowledge or practical experience” in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service shall be nominated by the President in the Upper House of Parliament. The Constitution also allows any nominated MP to join a political party.
The tenth schedule of the constitution says, “...in any other case, be deemed to belong to the political party of which he becomes, or, as the case may be, first becomes, a member before the expiry of six months from the date on which he takes his seat after complying with the requirements of article 99 or, as the case may be, article 188”.
This March, nominated member Swapan Dasgupta resigned from the House as he didn’t opt to join the BJP during the window of six months but stood as the party’s poll candidate in the West Bengal assembly election.
He has subsequently been nominated as a Rajya Sabha MP again; there is nothing in he rules against members of a party being nominated.
Joachim Alva, a prominent Christian leader involved in
India’s freedom movement was the first nominated member who joined political party after coming to Rajya Sabha. He became a Congress member in 1968.
The Upper House of Parliament has seen stalwarts such as painter MF Husain, mathematician Satyendra Nath Bose, actor Prithviraj Kapoor, writer Amrita Pritam, lawyer Ram Jethmalani, journalist Khushwant Singh, boxer Mary Kom and film-maker Shyam Benegal as its nominated members. These MPS enjoy same privileges as other parliamentarians but they can’t vote in Presidential elections as they are nominated by the President .
While a nominated member is free to join a political party, experts say this is not a a healthy trend for parliamentary democracy.
“The Constitution says that people of eminence in certain fields will get represented in the House. The system was created to allow these experts to give their free opinion on various policies and legislation,” said former secretary general of Lok Sabha P Sreedharan.
“But if they join political parties, they too, would be bound by the party’s views and whip and their freedom would be curtailed.”