Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar faced his first bouncer from Rajya Sabha members Friday for his poor attendance in Parliament since he was nominated to the House in April 2012.
Angry lawmakers kicked up a storm over the long absences of celebrity MPs Tendulkar and actor Rekha from the House, with some saying they should not have been nominated in the first place.
Speaking at a sports function in the Capital later, Tendulkar defended his absence, saying a medical emergency had kept him away.
“I don’t mean to disrespect any institution,” he said, adding, “There was a medical emergency in my family, certain things I want to keep private. But just to let you know, my elder brother Ajit had to undergo a bypass surgery and I had to be by his side.”
The former cricketer has attended Parliament for only three days and was last seen in the House on December 13, 2013. Rekha, who was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha in April 2012, last attended the House on February 19.
Lyricist Javed Akhtar, a nominated Rajya Sabha MP, said being a member is a responsibility and not a trophy, while BJP MP Kirti Azad said Rekha and Tendulkar were duty-bound to attend the House.
“They should quit if they could not attend,” he added.
However, Rajya Sabha speaker and Congress leader PJ Kurien said the two could not be removed from the House as they had not violated any rules.
“If a member is absent from either House of Parliament for a period of 60 days then the seat is considered vacant,” said Kurien. Tendulkar, he said, had not attended Parliament for 40 days while it was in session, while Rekha has been absent for just a few days less.
HT was the first to report on July 24 that the master batsman had not asked a single question in Parliament since he was nominated and that he had not spent a penny of his Rs. 15 crore MP Local Area Development Scheme fund.
NCP leader DP Tripathi raised Tendulkar and Rekha’s long absence outside Parliament on Thursday, calling their conduct “despicable”.