Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 24
The fissures that surfaced in the Congress this August when 23 leaders sought organisational reform deepened Tuesday with veteran Anand Sharma asking some leaders in the party to stop undermining Rajya Sabha leaders.
“Whom are they belittling? Do they know that India’s tallest leaders, be it Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee or Somnath Chatterjee and LK Advani were members of the Rajya Sabha at some point,” Sharma, one of the 23 leaders who wrote a letter asking for a complete overhaul of Congress structures down to block committees, said.
Sharma’s comments came a day after the Congress officially advised “nominated Rajya Sabha leaders” to follow party discipline and not talk out of line about internal affairs.
Sharma’s target was party spokesperson Pawan Khera, who, responding to recent remarks on Congress debacles by Rajya Sabha members Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “The nominated senior leaders have access to the party leadership and should refrain from speaking publicly”.
A visibly perturbed Anand Sharma, also a Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, said on Tuesday that those undermining the Rajya Sabha were far removed from its origins and the fact that the Rajya Sabha is the only permanent house of the Indian Parliament.
“Rajya Sabha was the first to be constituted and then came the Lok Sabha. The Constitution clearly states that RS members, barring the 12 nominated ones, are elected by the MLAs of the state assemblies,” Sharma said. “Whether RS or Lok Sabha, all MPs are elected. Lok Sabha members get elected only because they have bagged party nominations. Likewise nominated fight Rajya Sabha elections.”
The former UPA minister today said party leaders should stop undermining RS members and remember the importance of RS which is the Council of States akin to the US Senate.
“People questioning the Rajya Sabha members are disrespecting the Constitution. Late Indira Gandhi was a member of which House when she became prime minister,” Sharma said,
“Atal Behari Vajpayee was a member of which house when he wrote a letter to Pt Nehru on the 1962 War? Former PM Manmohan Singh was a member of which House? So people must maintain decency in discourse,” he said, advising detractors in the Congress to “mind their language”.
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