Sachin Tendulkar was again under attack in Rajya Sabha today for his prolonged absence even as the cricket icon sought to control damage by applying for leave for the entire Budget session, which was granted amid strong opposition from members.
Members cutting across party line termed his long absence as "disrespect to House and nation" and there were demands for seeking an explanation from him particularly when he was here in Delhi to attend a programme near Parliament last week but did not come to Rajya Sabha.
The issue cropped up during Zero Hour as soon as Deputy Chairman P J Kurien sought permission of the House for grant of leave to Sachin, who has attended the House only three times since his nomination over two years back.
Kurien said Sachin has sent a leave application expressing inability to attend the 232nd session (current session) of Rajya Sabha on account of "professional and personal commitments and family exigencies."
Naresh Agarwal (SP) immediately objected to grant of leave to him saying, "Sachin Tendulakar had come to Delhi to attend a function at Vigyan Bhawan near Parliament but did not come to the House. Members' views are unanimous that he has no respect for the House."
Sachin was at a programme in Vigyan Bhawan, nearly 3 km from Parliament, on August 8 where he said he could not attend the House because his elder brother had to undergo a heart surgery.
Responding to Agarwal's contention, Kurien observed, "So many members remain absent for various reasons and it is for the Chair to investigate why they didn't come. You cannot object."
To this Agarwal retorted, "Sachin should give an explanation why he did not come to the House and Chair will have to note his (Agarwal's) objection. Tell me under which rule I cannot object to it. Please bring my objection to record."
Satyavrat Chaturvedi (Cong) too supported Agarwal saying, "A wrong precedent is being set. No one should be allowed to remain absent like this. This is not acceptable. They should realise that they cannot do like this."
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad was seen urging Chaturvedi to sit down.
Kurien said, "His leave application has been received. We have to take it on face value as we are not here to probe and find out the veracity of it. Every member is a respected member. Leave is granted."
To this, a large number of members shouted "no, no" in chorus.