Is BJP misinforming on validity of Non-Domicile for Rajya Sabha?

To inform: A Domicile is not needed for election to Rajya Sabha

The other day, BJP spokesperson on a TV debate was criticising Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh for being elected to the Upper House of Parliament from Assam, which is not his state of domicile. The main point of criticism here was how Congress makes place for arm chair politicians (with no Janadhar) or non-politicians like Manmohan Singh.

The criticism by BJP on this point is plain rhetoric, when one gets to know that the amendment to the Representation to the People Act, 1951 allowing any Indian citizen to get elected to Rajya Sabha from any state in India, was made in 2003, during the BJP led NDA Government. To be specific, the R.P. Act 1951 was amended in 2003, and the amendment was, and I quote,

R.P. Act, 1951, s. 3, for the words “in that State or territory,” the words “in India”
substituted by R.P. (Amendment) Act, 2003

That is, in place of “in that State or territory,” in the R.P. Act 1951, the words “in India” are substituted by R.P. (Amendment) Act, 2003.

If BJP led Government at Centre amended the Act, then it can be easily speculated that BJP did so to accommodate its leaders with no political base in their states of domicile (permanent Residence). This is a mere speculation, hence I’m not saying the BJP amended the Act necessarily to accommodate its arm chair politicians.

I can understand why BJP spokespersons still raise the issue of Dr. Manmohan Singh being elected to Rajya Sabha from Assam. Simply because, they want to show to the people of Assam that a person not belonging to their soil, is representing them at Rajya Sabha. A sentiment if sown in the hearts of people of Assam, can benefit the BJP. Another reason why BJP keeps raising this issue is to portray the Indian PM as weak.

The fact of the matter is, Dr. Manmohan Singh didn’t become the country’s Prime Minister as he was a politician; he became PM because he was an economist of world renown. A true professional and Academic who can lead India in a changing World. Obviously, he can’t win a Lok Sabha election, as he spent most of his life on his subject.

The BJP raising the issue of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s election from Assam is even more unjustified, when one notes the Supreme Court verdict of 2006 regarding the Constitutional validity of R.P. Amendment Act 2003.

Giving verdict on the bunch of petitions filed by some former MPs, including Kuldip Nayyar and Inderjit, seeking the striking down of amendments to sections three, 49, 94 and 1 28 of Representation of the People Act on the ground that it was contrary to the Constitutional scheme, a five-judge Constitution bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal unanimously upheld the constitutional validity of electoral law amendments dispensing with the domicile requirement for Rajya Sabha elections. It also upheld the Constitutional validity of electoral law amendment dispensing the secret ballot.

Thus BJP raising, again and again, the issue of Manmohan Singh’s election to Rajya Sabha from Assam,  becomes even more unjustified.

The fact that it was the BJP itself which amended in 2003, the R.P. Act 1951, to allow even a non-domicile (non-Permanent Resident) to get elected to Rajya Sabha; makes its propaganda even more unjustified.

 To conclude, the Upper House of Parliament is often seen by political parties as a house to accommodate its aging and non-political base politicians. It’s also seen as a way to set aside any politician who the party sees as a trouble maker. Hence it’s no surprise that someone who can’t win a Lok Sabha Election or someone who the party doesn’t want to contest a Lok Sabha election, for rivalry reasons, is accommodated in the Rajya Sabha. 

Every political party is practicing this arrangement. Some years ago, Sushma Swaraj of BJP was Rajya Sabha Member from Uttarakhand. In more recent past, Satyavrat Chaturvedi of Congress was RS member from Uttarakhand. At present, BJP’s Tarun Vijay is holding one of the three RS seats from Uttarakhand. All three are not the domiciles of Uttarakhand. Hence BJP must not raise this issue to score some easy brownie points. The country is full of very aware young people and citizens; such misinformation will not take BJP any further.

BJP doesn’t have a moral right to question election of a non-domicile to Rajya Sabha; But can we?

Even when the Hon’ble SC has upheld the Constitutionality of a non-domicile’s election to Rajya Sabha (Amendment Act 2003). There are a few things which don’t look good. If Rajya Sabha is the Council of States; and if the main purpose of it is to take on and debate the people issues of a state, then who will act in a better faith? The domicile of the state or a non-domicile. Think it over. But I request you to see this under the light that all political parties send non-domiciles to Rajya Sabha.

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