‘Money power in parliamentary democracy will muzzle voice of poor’

The political arena was set buzzing on Monday after television channels aired footage of senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana Chaudhary Birender Singh claiming that tickets to the Upper House of Parliament were up for sale.

Mr. Singh later clarified that he had only sought to caution voters that the emerging political class was able to use money power to secure Parliamentary posts.

Mr. Singh, a known detractor of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has been touring the State in the lead-up to the August 20 rally scheduled at Jind to mark the birthday of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

It was at one such workers rally in Jind on Monday that Mr. Singh made the controversial claim. He said an undisclosed Rajya Sabha MP had claimed to have spent Rs.80 crore for a ticket. The MP in question had, what’s more, boasted that he had managed to save Rs. 20 crore on the deal, for which he had laid out a budget of Rs.100 crore, said Mr. Singh. He was also shown telling television crews that there were many MPs who, by virtue of their association with big money, could easily find their way into the Rajya Sabha.

To buttress his claim, Mr. Singh later referred to newspaper reports that after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, as many as 360 crorepatis, including a dozen-and-half multi-billionaires (arbpatis), had become MPs.

Mr. Singh said that he had sought to caution the people about a dangerous trend — money power was gaining control in parliamentary democracy. Such a trend would only serve to muzzle the voice of those who raised the issues of the poor and underprivileged.

Mr. Singh was “dropped” at the proverbial eleventh hour, during the last Cabinet reshuffle, from being inducted into the Union Council of Ministers after he accused, in a controversial speech, the Hooda government of ignoring the Scheduled Castes and other downtrodden people in development schemes.

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