New Delhi/Chandigarh: In what is seen as a rebellion by Congress MLAs in Haryana, where the party is caught in the morass of groupism, the BJP-backed independent candidate Subhash Chandra scored an upset victory as the Congress stalwart Kapil Sibal pulled it off in Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha polls in which union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu, Birender Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman and M A Naqvi won comfortably.
Senior Congress leaders Oscar Fernandes and Jairam Ramesh were elected from Karnataka where cross-voting by rebel JD(S) MLAs enabled ruling Congress gain a third seat. Former IPS officer K C Ramamurthy won the seat defeating JD(S)-backed Independent candidate B M Farooq, a businessman, in the third seat. The major jolt for Congress came in Haryana where the party suffered through heavy cross-voting by its 14 MLAs that led to the defeat of the party-backed Independent candidate R K Anand who was mainly fielded by its arch rival INLD. Subhash Chandra, a media baron, defeated Anand, a senior lawyer and a former MP, after 14 votes of Congress were rejected, state Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma told the media in Chandigarh.
The Congress also failed in its attempt to secure victory for JMM candidate Basant Soren, son of party supremo Shibu Soren, backed by it in Jharkhand where a ruling BJP nominee Mahesh Poddar won by a whisker after an arrested JMM MLA and a Congress MLA facing arrest could not vote.In the 27 seats spread across seven states that were up for grabs on Saturday, 11 went to BJP, 6 to Congress, 7 to Samajwadi Party, 2 to BSP and one Independent. 30 of 57 seats in the current round of biennial elections were decided without contest last week.
A whopping sum of `287 cr spent on RS proceedings during 2014-15
Ludhiana: As the voting for 27 Rajya Sabha seats in seven states was held on Saturday, it would be an interesting fact to know that how much expenditure comes out on each member in a financial year. A query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that a whopping sum of Rs 287 crore was incurred on the Upper House’s proceedings during financial year of 2014-15. Thus, if calculated individually, Rs 1.14 crore was spent on each Rajya Sabha MP as the House has the strength of 239 elected Members besides 12 nominated ones.
This amount may escalate if the medical benefits availed by the Rajya Sabha members are included in the above mentioned amount. The Rajya Sabha Secretariat recently provided this information sought under the RTI Act. The information had been sought regarding the salary and all types of allowances current MPs along with the payments made to Punjab MPs during the last 10 years. In the reply, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat replied that this information does not pertain to them.To another query about expenditures on medical benefits availed by the members, the RS Secretariat replied that though the members are not entitled to any fixed monthly or yearly medical allowances, but they are entitled to avail health facilities which are availed by the Class I officers under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).
Regarding the query pertaining to financial expenditure on one session of the Upper House of the Parliament, the RS Secretariat informed that because the expenditure of Rajya Sabha is monitored under different heads, so the applicant can be provided information about the expenditures incurred on different heads for the financial year 2014-15. Out of the total expenditures during the said financial year, a major chunk was spent on the RS Members salaries, allowances etc and the publication, administrative expenses which in total is Rs 106.78 crore. Besides, a whopping amount to the tune of Rs 117.80 crore was spent on RS Secretariat which includes the salaries of the staff, labour charges, allowances given time to time, and fare, professional services availed etc whereas a sum of Rs 83.68 lakh was spent on training unit. Another sizeable chunk of the total expenditure was spent on the Rajya Sabha TV Channel. Rs 59.33 crore was spent on this account in the said financial year.
When apprised about the RTI revelation, Dr Narotam Dewan, who is a successor of the freedom fighter and first MLA from Ludhiana Dewan Jagdish Chander, said: “It is a shame for our country that such huge amounts are being splurged by the MPs. We should follow Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of simplicity. The expenditures on both the Houses of Parliament should be curtailed. On one hand crores of people are starving, the MPs are enjoying lavish food at nominal charges.”
He further said: “A wrong trend has started of stalling the proceedings of both the Houses. Earlier, it was the BJP and other Opposition parties who used to stall the House proceedings, now the Congress is resorting to these tactics. It a mockery of law making procedure and should be stopped as it gives a bad name to the nation.” Echoing similar views, a leading industrialist Inderjit Singh Navyug said, “Public money should not be wasted on facilities to the Parliamentarians who indulge in stalling the House proceedings and their expenditures should be curtailed.”
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