Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar's nomination to the Rajya Sabha drew mixed reaction with most members of the upper House on Friday, welcoming the decision even as the Opposition felt this could be a move by the Congress to divert attention from the problems afflicting the party.
Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut maintained that Tendulkar should be given the Bharat Ratna but questioned the timing of his nomination to Rajya Sabha.
"Sachin is still on the field and has not retired. So why is he not being nominated for Bharat Ratna? And if Sachin is being used to divert attention from the problems plaguing
Congress, then such politics should not be practised by them. Anything that Congress does is inspired by politics. Sachin is above politics," he said.
Congress Rajya Sabha member Satyavrat Chaturvedi rubbished the opposition charge that Tendulkar has been nominated to divert attention.
"The government, country and Parliament are above any individual. One person can neither build nor destroy the fate of a party or a government. The sooner this confusion is removed, the better. The kind of mindset Shiv Sena has, it can say anything," he said.
Chaturvedi maintained that nominated members have also contributed immensely to Rajya Sabha.
"I have seen some nominated members who have made a lot of contribution. Can anybody ignore the contribution made by M S Swaminathan or Shabana Azmi? On the other hand, there were some who visited only once in a blue moon," he said.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party), Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Sudip Bandyopadhaya (Trinamool Congress) and Raj Babbar
(Congress) welcomed Tendulkar becoming a Rajya Sabha member.
"We will get to see how he performs his role in Parliament. I welcome his nomination to the Rajya Sabha," Speaker Meira Kumar said.
"It is a good decision to encourage to sports person. He is a big name," SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said. Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Sudip Bandyopadhyay said, "This is one of the finest decisions. It will inspire a lot of young people."
Expressing confidence that Tendulkar will contribute to the functioning of the upper House, Congress MP Raj Babbar said, "He has brought honour to the country and now it is time for the House to honour him. Claims that he is being nominated by Congress is due to a narrow mindset. He has not joined Congress."
However, Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta differed from his colleagues in the Rajya Sabha on Tendulkar's nomination.
"It should not be seen as if the government is only patronising cricket. There are so many other sports and sports persons, besides cricket, about which the government needs to think seriously," he said.
Dasgupta also demanded that cricketer Sourav Ganguly be also nominated to the Upper House. "I welcome the decision to nominate Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha. But at the same time when Sourav is in his topform, his name too should have been considered," he said.
The CPI leader said besides film stars, writers, people associated with culture and literature should also be sent to the Upper House.The communist leader said since India "is a country of workers", industrialists should not be brought to the Rajya Sabha.