Members of ‘House of Elders’ have fun, adventures and failures too

Agency News

New Delhi, Apr 13 : The likes of Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Digvijay Singh share a common feature in the heat and dust of battle of 2019 as they all are sitting Rajya Sabha members and are seeking elections to the 17th Lok Sabha.

In recent past, eminent members of the House of Elders to make it to Lok Sabha include Sushma Swaraj, Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha in 2009.  In 2014, Congress old warhorse Ghulam Nabi Azad failed to make it to the House of the People from Udhampur parliamentary constituency in Jammu and Kashmir when he lost to BJP leader Jitendra Singh by a margin of 60,976 votes. BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley also failed in his maiden attempt to make it in 2014 as he was humbled by Capt Amarinder Singh in Amritsar by a margin of 1,12,770 votes. The senior leaders making to and fro journey between Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in retrospective effect have galaxy of political stars.

As a matter of fact, India has had illustrious Dr Manmohan Singh making it as country's Prime Minister for 10 years as a member of Upper House from Assam. Five other Prime Ministers – who were once Rajya Sabha members include the illustrious club of Lal Bahadur Shatri, Indira Gandhi, V P Singh, Chandra Shekhar, H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.  Like Dr Manmohan Singh, the then Janata Dal leader H D Deve Gowda was also the Leader of the elder’s House (Rajya Sabha) during his prime ministership.

In fact, India’s Upper House of Parliament also has the distinction of giving Presidents in future – Zakir Hussain, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, N Sanjeeva Reddy, Zail Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil. Records show Ms Patil was Rajya Sabha member between 1985 and 1990. Even incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind was a member of Rajya Sabha from 1994 to 2006. Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu too has been an active member of the Upper House since 1998 to 2016 from Karnataka and later for a year from Rajasthan from July 5, 2016 and August 10, 2017. In fact, Pranab Mukherjee has the distinction of being Rajya Sabha member for long and it was only at the fag end of his political career, that Pranab Mukherjee chose to contest and win from Jangipur Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and later in 2009. Mr Mukherjee got his break in politics in 1969 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made him a member of the Rajya Sabha and soon he emerged as 'Man for all Seasons' to her.

Mr Mukherjee was very powerful under Prime Ministers P V Narasimha Rao and also under Dr Manmohan Singh. Among the old-timers, Vajpayee, Sanjeeva Reddy, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Indira Gandhi, C N Annadurai and P C Sethi were among those Rajya Sabha members who were elected to the lower House in 1967. Five years prior to that, in 1962, Y B Chavan, Humayun Kabir and Bejawada Gopal Reddy made it to Lok Sabha as Rajya Sabha MPs. Among the stars of later period, L K Advani made it to Lok Sabha as a Rajya Sabha MP alongside compatriots such as Chitta Basu, Sharad Yadav, Ajit Singh and Vijayraje Scindia in 1989. Chandra Shekhar was among the 11 Rajya Sabha members to be elected to the lower House in 1977. His compatriots too were stars in their own rights – Raj Narain and K Brahmananda Rao.

In fact, Raj Narain defeated Indira Gandhi from Rae Bareli in 1977 by a margin of 55,202 votes. The 1989 elections - post Bofors controversy - saw 12 Rajya Sabha MPs win general elections to Lok Sabha.  In both 1957 and 1962 elections, 15 Rajya Sabha members joined the Lok Sabha. Notably, as per the records, former Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon from Kerala were elected to the Lok Sabha in 1957. According to parliamentary experts, rules are specific that the Rajya Sabha members, who are elected to Lok Sabha have no option but to quit the upper House.

The rules, however, say those elected from more than one constituency (to Lok Sabha) can retain a seat of their choice. In 1991 general elections, Vajpayee (was Rajya Sabha member) and could make it to Lok Sabha from Vidisha and Lucknow. Another Rajya Sabha member who could do so in 1991 and enter the 10th Lok Sabha was D K Taradevi of the Congress, who was elected from Chikmagalur in Karnataka. In 1991 polls, interestingly as Rajya Sabha members G G Swell from Meghalaya (Hill State People’s Democratic Party), Raj Mohan Gandhi (Janata Dal), T R Baalu (DMK) and Prakash Yashwant Ambedkar (BSP) had failed to enter Lok Sabha.  (UNI)