Nitin Gadkari touches Baba Ramdev's feet, offers BJP's support for movement against black money

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Baba Ramdev with Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar
NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday backed Baba Ramdev's movement against black money, with the yoga guru meeting party president Nitin Gadkari at his residence here.

"Baba Ramdev's fight against black money is very important. We as the party support Baba Ramdev in this 'andolan' (movement). This is an agitation above party lines; this is for the benefit of the country," Gadkari said after the meeting on Monday.

The BJP president also bowed down to touch Ramdev's feet. He later said it was a gesture of respect and he was following Indian culture.

The two, however, ruled out any political motive behind the meeting.

"This movement is not against any political party. It is for the benefit of the nation," Ramdev said.

He said he had also sought time from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leaders of 10 other political parties.

"I will be meeting A B Bardhan (Communist Party of India) on 15th (June), Prakash Karat (Communist Party of India - Marxist) day after tomorrow, Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal - United) on 7th, and have also sought time from Chandrababu Naidu (TDP) and Uddhav Thackeray ( Shiv Sena)," Ramdev said.

The meeting comes a day after Ramdev, along with anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, sat on a day-long fast at Delhi's Jantar Mantar.

Meanwhile, Gadkari said Sonia Gandhi should "rise above politics" and support the civil society's anti-corruption movement.

"I will request Sonia Gandhi ... she should understand that this movement is not against any political party ... She should rise above politics to save the country and support this movement. Bringing black money back is in favour of the nation," Gadkari said.

Earlier, Sonia Gandhi, at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meet on Monday morning, defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying that the opposition and the civil society were conspiring with anti-Congress elements to undermine the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the prime minister and senior ministers.
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Sachin Tendulkar takes oath as Rajya Sabha member, keen on helping other sports

, by indianmilitaryveterans

New Delhi: Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who took oath as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha today, is keen on helping not only cricket but other sports as well. (See Pics)

Mr Tendulkar, who took oath in the office of Rajya Sabha Chairman Dr Hamid Ansari, said he was honoured to be nominated by the President of India and is keen to help not only cricket but other sports as well. "In the last 22 years of my international career, cricket has given me so much and I also wanted to give something back to cricket in the latter half of my life. Today with the nomination, I am in a better position not only to help cricket but also other sports. It means a lot to me. I will try to help other sports." (Who is Sachin Tendulkar?)

"But I believe there will be a few obstacles along the way, and I will need from my fellow parliamentarians, the administrators, media and our countrymen. Together we can make a lot of changes," the newly appointed MP said. (Sachin in Rajya Sabha: Who said what)

Mr Tendulkar, who was accompanied by his wife Anjali and Congress leader Mr Rajiv Shukla, also said that he would like to be remembered as someone who contributed to the country and not just cricket statistics. "I will be happy if I am remembered as someone who contributed to my country, rather than just cricket statistics. That would be fantastic." (Read: 'There will be a few obstacles')

When asked how he would take time out of his busy cricket schedule, Mr Tendulkar said: "I am a nominee. I did not go to anyone asking to be a Rajya Sabha member. It's an honour and I accept that with respect. But I am here because of my cricket. I can't take my focus away from cricket."

"As and when I will get time I would like to help not only cricket but other sports as well," he added.

President Pratibha Patil had approved the cricket legend's name along with Bollywood actor Rekha and businesswoman Anu Aga in April for the Upper House of the Parliament. The approval had come after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to the President with the government's recommendations.

While Ms Rekha and Ms Aga were sworn in in May, Mr Tendulkar could not take oath earlier due to his IPL commitments. The IPL ended only on May 27th.

Indian skipper MS Dhoni said yesterday that his senior team-mate will make a contribution as a Rajya Sabha member. "This (Rajya Sabha) is a new avenue for him and I am sure he will do well and contribute there also," Dhoni said.

He said Mr Tendulkar has excelled in cricket and in whatever he has done so far. "I would like to wish him all the very best. He has been contributing in cricket and has done well in every field," he added.

World chess champion Viswanathan Anand also said that Mr Tendulkar serving as a Rajya Sabha member would be a big step in his life and wished the cricket legend enjoys his new role. "I hope he enjoys his role and he is able to do it very well. It's a big step for him and I think he will enjoy it," Anand said.

Given Mr Tendulkar's busy cricket schedule - he spent more than 235 days last year playing or travelling for 33 matches (From January 1 2011 to March 31 2012) - many have questioned whether he will have the time or inclination to be an active MP. Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar was asked by NDTV about whether other members of the House might find it tough to take on Mr Tendulkar in a parliamentary debate, given the huge goodwill he enjoys among politicians as well as cricket fans. "The only person who can win an argument against Sachin is (his wife) Anjali," Mr Gavaskar had responded.

Mr Tendulkar's nomination in the Rajya Sabha had evoked mixed reactions. While some hailed the decision, some were critical of it and accused the government of trying to leverage the cricketer's huge popularity and icon status for its own benefit.

"Sachin's nomination is a real recognisation of sports talent," said the Left's Gurudas Dasgupta. But he added, "Sourav Ganguly could also have been considered when he was in his top form." Mr Dasgupta also said that the government must consider recognising achievers from other sports as well. "It should not be highlighted that they are patronizing cricket (alone)," he advised.

On the other hand, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut slammed the Congress party, saying: "They want to improve their image ...they should not play politics with Sachin," he said. The Congress had denied the allegations. Congress leader Rajiv Shukla, who had accompanied Mr Tendulkar and his wife Anjali to a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi hours before he was nominated, said: "We are trying to bring good people in is a kind of honour for him."

Mr Tendulkar's inclusion to the Rajya Sabha comes at a time when many have asked why he has not been given the nation's highest civilian honour - the Bharat Ratna. In March, Mr Tendulkar became the only cricketer to get a hundred centuries in international cricket. Politicians, who are not from the Congress, as well as analysts, have said that by accepting the government's nomination, Mr Tendulkar will be seen as aligned with the Congress. This, they argue, could dent his standing as a man who has been careful to avoid any public affiliation with a political party. "It is Sachin's and the Congress' personal matter. But I feel more than a seat, he should be given a Bharat Ratna," BJP leader Gopinath Munde had said.

In 2009, Mr Tendulkar took on two political parties - the Shiv Sena, which is headed by Bal Thackeray, and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, launched by Mr Thackeray's estranged nephew, Raj. Both parties were pushing a strong anti-immigrant campaign in an attempt to woo voters in Maharashtra. "Mumbai belongs to India. That is how I look at it. And I am a Maharashtrian and I am extremely proud of that but I am an Indian first," Sachin had said.

Process of nomination to Rajya Sabha

Under article 80 of the Constitution, the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) is composed of not more than 250 members, of whom 12 are nominated by the President of India from amongst persons who have special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service.

In practice, the Home Ministry finalises on the names and notifies the process. The Prime Minister then writes to the President with the government's recommendations through the Home Ministry. Usually, consent is sought before a person's name is recommended for nomination to the Upper House.


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