Liquor baron Vijay Mallya will most certainly miss the Rajya Sabha. But will Rajya Sabha miss him?
The independent member of Parliament (MP) resigned from the Upper House on Monday, a day before the Ethics Committee was expected to recommend his disqualification. Mallya is being investigated for loan default and money laundering by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines (KFA).
Mallya entered the Rajya Sabha in April 2002, a year before KFA took off, and his tenure coincided with the rise and fall of the jazzy, budget airline. His term was coming to an end on June 30.
In his two terms spread over a decade, Mallya was hardly a pro-active parliamentarian and instead tried to prevail upon the government to act on his demands.
In all the time he spent in the House, records show that Mallya asked just 621 questions — most of it written ones that entailed only written answers and no discussion on the floor.
Of these questions, he managed a response from the government for only 67 issues. His area of interest was mostly confined to issues related to Karnataka — the state he represented.
Mallya, who the ED has unsuccessfully managed to summon to its offices in India, will not make the farewell speech this time — a coveted event that every MP looks forward to as an opportunity to leave the House on a high, eloquent note. But for Mallya, perhaps speech doesn’t matter much.
In both his terms as MP, Mallya didn’t have a single Special Mention against his name. A Special Mention is a procedure an MP can use to raise important issues of public importance.
Mallya also didn’t avail the opportunity to table a Private Member’s Bill. Such a bill is a tool for a private member not part of the government to seek policy changes. While many consider it a pious duty to push such a bill — in some cases, a private bill had been adopted by the government — Mallya’s record stands at zero.
It remains to be if Mallya’s resignation will be accepted by the House or if the Ethics Committee will go ahead and pronounce its recommendation to expel Mallya. Sources said the authenticity of Mallya’s resignation letter is also yet to be verified.
The ministry of foreign affairs had last month suspended the businessman’s passport, which was a diplomatic one given his MP status, following the ED’s request. Mallya was asked to respond within a week or else face cancellation of his passport.
Experts are now divided on Mallya’s future at the Rajya Sabha: Will he be eligible to return in the future.
The jury is undecided. Some say if the baron clears up the financial mess and repayment of bankloans, he will be eligible to contest the biennial polls. Others however say it will be tough given the Ethics panel’s charges of Mallya furnishing misleading annual declarations on his assets and liabilities.