Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar's nomination to the Rajya Sabha drew mixed reaction with most members of the upper House today welcoming the decision even as the Opposition felt this could be a move by the Congress to divert attention from the problems afflicting the party.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut maintained that Tendulkar should be given the Bharat Ratna but questioned the timing of his nomination to Rajya Sabha.
"Sachin is still on the field and has not retired. So why is he not being nominated for Bharat Ratna? And if Sachin is being used to divert attention from the problems plaguing Congress, then such politics should not be practised by them. Anything that Congress does is inspired by politics. Sachin is above politics," he said.
Congress Rajya Sabha member Satyavrat Chaturvedi rubbished the opposition charge that Tendulkar has been nominated to divert attention.
"The Government, country and Parliament are above any individual. One person can neither build nor destroy the fate of a party or a government. The sooner this confusion is removed, the better. The kind of mindset Shiv Sena has, it can say anything," he said.
Chaturvedi maintained that nominated members have also contributed immensely to Rajya Sabha.
"I have seen some nominated members who have made a lot of contribution. Can anybody ignore the contribution made by M S Swaminathan or Shabana Azmi? On the other hand, there were some who visited only once in a blue moon," he said.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Mayawati (BSP), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Sudip Bandyopadhaya (TMC) and Raj Babbar (Cong) welcomed Tendulkar becoming a Rajya Sabha member.
"We will get to see how he performs his role in Parliament. I welcome his nomination to the Rajya Sabha," Speaker Meira Kumar said.
"It is a good decision to encourage to sports person. He is a big name," SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said.
Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Sudip Bandyopadhyay said, "This is one of the finest decisions. It will inspire a lot of young people."
Expressing confidence that Tendulkar will contribute to the functioning of the upper House, Congress MP Raj Babbar said, "He has brought honour to the country and now it is time for the House to honour him. Claims that he is being nominated by Congress is due to a narrow mindset. He has not joined Congress."
However, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta differed from his colleagues in the Rajya Sabha on Tendulkar's nomination.
"It should not be seen as if the government is only patronising cricket. There are so many other sports and sports persons, besides cricket, about which the government needs to think seriously," he said.
Dasgupta also demanded that cricketer Sourav Ganguly be also nominated to the Upper House.
"I welcome the decision to nominate Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha. But at the same time when Sourav is in his top form, his name too should have been considered," he said.
The CPI leader said besides film stars, writers, people associated with culture and literature should also be sent to the Upper House.
The communist leader said since India "is a country of workers", industrialists should not be brought to the Rajya Sabha.
Union Minister Vilasrao Desmukh said "its not correct (that Congress is playing politics on Sachin's nomination to RS)".
He rejected the Shiv Sena's accusation that the Congress is playing politics by nominating Sachin to the Rajya Sabha.
"If we have not honoured a sportsman then there would have been allegations against us not considering great sportsman for such appointments," he said questioning that then the opposition and others would have asked us for not doing anything for great sports personalities in the country.
Desmukh exuded confidence that Sachin will be honoured with Bharat Ratna. "He will for sure get Bharat Ratna," he added.
On allegations that he favoured his relatives in alloting land for their trusts during his tenure as Maharashtra Chief Minister, Desmukh categorically said that "I had never broken any rule while allotting lands."
"I had always followed the law of land in allotment of lands for different purposes in Maharashtra during my tenure as Chief Minister," he said.
When his attention was drawn towards a CAG report pointing favouritism by him in allotment of lands to trusts floated by his near and dear ones, he said that "such CAG reports comes daily...But I always followed rules."
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