PT Usha, Ilaiyaraaja among four nominated to Rajya Sabha

Updated on Jul 07, 2022 12:41 AM IST

Legendary music director Ilaiyaraaja, celebrated athlete PT Usha, film screenwriter V Vijayendra Prasad and spiritual leader Veerendra Heggade were nominated to Rajya Sabha.

Former Olympian PT Usha was nominated to Rajya Sabha by the President. (File photo)
Former Olympian PT Usha was nominated to Rajya Sabha by the President. (File photo)

Legendary music director Ilaiyaraaja, celebrated athlete PT Usha, film screenwriter V Vijayendra Prasad and spiritual leader Veerendra Heggade were on Wednesday nominated to Rajya Sabha.

The nominations — done by the President on the advice of the Union Cabinet — are seen to be in line with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s concerted effort to expand its footprint in the Southern region as all four nominees are from as many Southern states. While PT Usha is from Kerala, Ilaiyaraaja is from Tamil Nadu, Heggade from Karnataka and Prasad from Andhra Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated all four nominees on Twitter. “The remarkable PT Usha Ji is an inspiration for every Indian. Her accomplishments in sports are widely known but equally commendable is her work to mentor budding athletes over the last several years. Congratulations to her on being nominated to the Rajya Sabha.”

The sprinter known as the Payyoli Express and the Golden Girl has won over 100 medals at national and international events, including four golds at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games. She hit the headlines with her performance at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, where she reached the final but missed out on a medal by a 1/100th of a second.

Also read: Govt nominates four luminaries from south states to Rajya Sabha: Here’s their profile

Congratulating Ilaiyaraaja, PM Modi said his creative genius has enthralled people across generations and his works beautifully reflect many emotions. “…What is equally inspiring is his life journey- he rose from a humble background and achieved so much. Glad that he has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha,” he tweeted.

The 79-year-old music maestro’s brother Gangai Amaran, who is also a composer, has been with the BJP since 2014 and contested in the RK Nagar assembly bypoll in Chennai in 2017 after it fell vacant following the death of then chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Ilaiyaraaja was recently embroiled in a controversy for his foreword drawing parallels between Ambedkar and Modi when the book ‘Ambedkar & Modi: Reformer’s Ideas, Performer’s Implementation’, published by Bluekraft Digital Foundation, was launched on April 14.

“During his career, Ilaiyaraaja had to face innumerable hardships and caste-based discrimination. However, he overcame all such hurdles and emerged as one of the country’s leading musicians,” read a statement by the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit.

Ilaiyaraaja has composed at least 7,000 songs for over 1,000 movies and performed in nearly 20,000 concerts across the globe. In 2018, he received the Padma Vibhushan and has won five national film awards and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

Heggade, who is the hereditary administrator or Dharmadhikari of the Dharmasthala Temple, is recipient of the second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, for social work and communal harmony. Referring to his nomination, the PM tweeted: “Heggade Ji is at the forefront of outstanding community service. I have had the opportunity to pray at the Dharmasthala Temple and also witness the great work he is doing in health, education and culture. He will certainly enrich Parliamentary proceedings.”

The PM also congratulated V Vijayendra Prasad, known for blockbusters such as ‘RRR’, the ‘Baahubali’ series and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” under his belt, for getting nominated to the Upper House.

Also read: From ace athlete to Rajya Sabha MP: PT Usha continues to blaze a trail

“V Vijayendra Prasad Garu is associated with the creative world for decades. His works showcase India’s glorious culture and have made a mark globally. Congratulations to him for being nominated to the Rajya Sabha,” the PM tweeted.

The President nominates 12 members to the Rajya Sabha on the advice of the cabinet who have special knowledge or practical experience in art, literature, science and social service. The nominated members have a six-year term. At present, there are five nominated members in the Rajya Sabha of which four have joined the BJP. They are lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, who was nominated in April this year; Ram Shakal, who was nominated in 2019; Rakesh Sinha and Sonal Mansingh, who were nominated in 2018; and former chief justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who was nominated in March, 2020.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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