Sachin Tendulkar taking his oath as a Rajya Sabha (RS) Member of Parliament last Monday might have been a quiet affair, but there was plenty of noise about him turning down the government accommodation in Delhi.
The cricketer was offered a five-bedroom colonial bungalow along with 24-hour security as part of the perks of being an MP. He was quoted saying, “I’m not keen on blocking a government bungalow because this would be a waste of tax payers’ money as I reside in Mumbai. It would be better if the bungalow is allotted to someone who needs it more than me.”
Javed Akhtar and Jaya Bachchan, both sitting members in RS, have a house in the capital, while Rekha’s Delhi address (she was sworn in a few days before Sachin) is not yet updated on the RS website.
When we asked Javed Akhtar if other MPs should emulate Sachin’s gesture, he was livid. “What’s your problem or anybody’s problem? It’s a pure waste of time to talk about it. It’s a non-issue. There are so many serious problems in India and this is the issue that concerns you?”
Other celebrity Rajya Sabha MPs in the recent past have included director Shyam Benegal, actors Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan and Shabana Azmi, singer Lata Mangeshkar, and journalist Khushwant Singh.
Anupam Kher, author and actor
“It’s a personal gesture of goodness. It speaks highly of Sachin and must be applauded. At the same time, it’s a perk given to all Rajya Sabha MPs, and they have every right to keep the government quarters.
Just because Sachin has turned it down doesn’t mean others need to emulate it. Everyone can’t stay in a hotel. Maybe he can afford it. It’s a financial thing. If I become an MP tomorrow, I will keep my quarters.”
Prahlad Kakkar, ad-film director
“Do you think our parliamentarians have sensitive skin, that they will look at Sachin and say, ‘Wow, our blue-eyed boy, the son of India has set an example, so all of us should tighten our belts and do it for the country?’ May be our celebrity MPs could do it, but I doubt they will.
By doing this, Sachin has answered his detractors who were wondering what he would do in the Parliament. The first issue he has brought up is saving the country’s money, however little it may be. Though he prefers to avoid controversy, if he needs to debate on issues that concern the country, he won’t avoid it. When he sits to talk, people will listen.”
Dibakar Banerjee, film director
“The man is following his conscience. Other should not do it to gain popularity, because Sachin didn't do it for eyeballs. He doesn't need it. Every child in the country knows his name.”
Asha Bhonsle, singer
“I think it’s a good thing. Sachin believes in quietly doing his work. This is such a small thing that anyone could have done it earlier, but he thought of it. I feel if they can afford to, other MPs should also emulate him.”
Shekhar Kapur @shekharkapur
Well done Sachin for setting terrific example by refusing bungalow in Delhi.R other rich MP's listening? (sic)
Sucheta Dalal @suchetadalal
Thank god @sachin_rt had good sense 2 reject accomodan in delhi. Dubious Cong wantd 2 cash-in by puting him nxt 2 prince Rahul! Disgustng! (sic)
Akhilesh Mishra @amishra77
Had Sachin accepted bunglow in Delhi, Rahul G would frequently drop in as neighbour.Images played multiple times on NDTV. That was the plan! (sic)
Gopinath Mavinkurve @gopinathm3der
Exemplary message to GOI by Sachin Tendulkar; ‘Dont waste taxpayers money’ (sic)