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    Posted on 01 May 2012
    Arkadev Ghoshal

    Our Master Blaster is no policymaker

    Arkadev Ghoshal on the googly thrown by nominating Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha

    Illustration: Sanjoy Naorem

    SACHIN TENDULKAR becoming a Member of Parliament is a great honour. But it also begs the question: What exactly is he going to do in the Rajya Sabha? More importantly, do we even want him there? And what about the host of ethical questions this raises about how this incident can set the ball rolling on a number of bad precedents?

    Let’s address the questions one by one. The Congress wants Sachin to decide on government policy, but a majority of the very people who have put the ruling coalition in place want him to perform on the field. So which one does he choose? Given that cricket has got him all the recognition he has today, one would not fault him for choosing to play the cricketer rather than the policymaker. In fact, most of India would support the decision.

    After all, when Govinda, as a Lok Sabha MP, was not present for a single day in the house, it did not raise too many eyebrows. Incidentally, Govinda didn’t even have too many films on his hands back then. Compare that to the gruelling overseas and domestic schedule of the BCCI, not to mention the Indian Premier League, and Sachin will probably have every excuse to stay out of the Upper House!

    And no one would probably fault him for that. His primary source of income is his game, which leads to endorsements. If he is to suddenly switch his career and focus full-time on lawmaking — as is expected of any Member of Parliament, but is often side-tracked — he would definitely not be the toast of advertising world, as he is today. That alone would be incentive enough for him to stay away from the Rajya Sabha, and keep his involvement intact with cricket! Clearly, this would be one person who does not want to be in the Parliament. Why would we even want him there in the first place?

    Then there’s the topic of ethics. The ambit of awarding the Bharat Ratna has recently been widened, and many feel it has happened just so that Sachin can be bestowed with the honour. However, given the current situation, Sachin himself may be found involved in bestowing the prestigious award on himself! Even if he is not, who is to say that someone else in a similar position would not abuse their power to recommend awards for themselves?

    Let’s further elucidate this with an example, assuming that one of the Ambani brothers, or their wives, gets into the Rajya Sabha via nomination. He or she then goes on to nominate a family member for one of the Padma awards, and scuttles any hopes of any awards given to competitors, no matter how great their contribution has been. Many may argue that such a thing is already happening, especially after the Padma awards in the recent times, but do we really need more of that?

    And now, back to the question at the core: What exactly is Sachin Tendulkar doing in the Rajya Sabha? The bluntest answer is: He is being used as a pawn by the Congress or the UPA (whichever you choose to believe) to enhance the image of the party/coalition. But it’s nothing new. Governments and politicians before have used similar tactics to show that they are ‘doing the right thing’, that they are populist. That’s the real reason why, as many Twitterati have pointed out, we have a Silsila rerun in the Rajya Sabha — Jaya Bachchhan and Bhanurekha Ganesan (better recognised as Rekha) face to face.

    But there may be yet another agenda at work. By nominating popular figures to the Parliament, political parties are ensuring that these people would support them during campaigning, and would not speak out against them on a public platform. It is highly unlikely that anyone nominated by the Congress to the Rajya Sabha would ever show up at an Anna Hazare rally. Similarly, these people would have to toe the Congress line on other issues, like Telangana, and hold their peace on the cornucopia of scams that are plaguing our country.

    ON THE other hand, one may very well expect to see these non-political faces forwarding a political party’s agenda by appearing in advertisements for apparently ‘successful’ government schemes, no matter how deep a pit the policies are in. After all, Rekha would be a much more photogenic face than Sharad Pawar in the advertisement that exhorts the faux ‘achievements’ of the agriculture ministry. Sachin, similarly, can be used to elucidate the achievements of the sports ministry, despite the fact that our sporting infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired.

    Herein lie the questions that should help us decide if we want the likes of Sachin Tendulkar in Parliament: To what extent do we want our non-political idols or heroes to dictate our political choices? Do we want them to point us to a party or an ideology because they are indebted to it? The answer should not be all that difficult to find.

    Arkadev Ghoshal works for FW. The veiws expressed here are personal.

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    Posted on 01 May 2012



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