It did not come as a surprise to anyone in the country when Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan compared the Rajya Sabha to a '˜market' and asked for its abolition. Rajya Sabha or the Upper House had its first meeting on May 13, 1952 and is made up of 250 members.
Out of the 250 members, 12 are nominated by the President of India for their expertise in the field of art, science, literature and social services. Some of the present nominated members include Javed Akhtar, Shyam Benegal, Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan and others. The remaining 238 members are elected by the state and territorial legislatures.
The political parties use their strength in the state legislatures to send their loyal people to the Rajya Sabha. If they have more seats available, it is usually given to people from the business community in exchange for financial compensation. It is like an unwritten rule of our political democracy. This is what Shivraj Singh Chouhan was talking about when he said that huge amounts of money are spent to become Rajya Sabha members.
In an apparent reference to liquor baron Vijay Mallya, Chauhan had said 'people like Kingfisher' were coming to the Rajya Sabha. Mallya, who has business interests in the liquor and airline industry, is a second-time MP. 'Those who give funds make a sort of investment and earn out of it later,' the BJP chief minister said. 'Huge sums of money were being spent by the candidates to become RS members,' he said, adding that men with money power were in the race to enter the House.
"There is horse trading in Rajya Sabha elections... seats are bought and sold... sometimes it's Kingfisher, sometimes others. Democracy is shamed (Rajya Sabha mein kaise chunav hote hain ... aur chunaav mein kaun kaun paisa lagate hain .. Kabhi King fisher wale aate hain , kabhi aur doosra aata hai ..sare aam kharidi hoti hai MLA ki ...mandi ban jata hai. Vidhaykon ki boli lagaeey jati hai. sare aam lok tantra sharm saar hota hai ..)," Chouhan had said.
The Chief Minister retracted his statements as soon as he made it. "Rajya Sabha is a Constitutional institution and I respect it, and I also respect all the members of the Rajya Sabha, and if people have construed different meaning of my words, I apologise," Chouhan said.
These remarks are perhaps an embarrassment to the BJP that had backed Mallya's candidature, barely six months ago. The party distanced itself from Chouhan's comments.
"This is not the official view of the matter," Chandan Mitra, a BJP leader and a Rajya Sabha member, said.
Sources say there was discomfort in the BJP's top leadership over the chief minister's remarks, and that may well have been the reason why Chouhan retracted his comments.
The political parties should not give party nomination to a person who has nothing to do with that party. It couldn't be more obvious why the person is getting it. I was talking to a Member of Parliament today and she told me that the very rich candidates from the business community are ready to spend as much as 100 crores for the seat.
When candidates win elections based on gun-power, I call it the 'rape of democracy'. When they get rajya sabha nomination because of money-power, it definitely qualifies to get the name of 'molestation of democracy'.