Rajya Sabha calendar chronicles changes over decades

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The Hindu, January 02, 2019

The 2019 Rajya Sabha calendar, launched by its Chairman and Vice-President of India Venkaiah Naidu, is a treasure trove of trivia on the Upper House. For instance, over 34 of its 66 years of existence, including the first 17 years, the Rajya Sabha did not have a Leader of the Opposition (LoP).

It was only in December 1969 that the position was first occupied by Shyam Nandan Mishra of the Congress. The office of the LoP in the Rajya Sabha’s was formally created via an Act in 1977. The longest serving LoP is former prime minister Manmohan Singh, with a tenure of six years. He also has the distinction of being the longest-serving Leader of the House, with a stint of ten years.

The calendar, Mr. Naidu noted, is a chronicle of political changes in the Rajya Sabha since 1952. Featured in the calendar are 65 leaders, including 13 Chairmen, 12 Deputy Chairpersons (three women among them), 26 Leaders of the House and 14 Leaders of the opposition from different parties, since the inception of the Rajya Sabha in 1952.

The Rajya Sabha has produced six Rajya Sabha Chairmen who have gone onto become the President of India. The last Chairman to make this transition was K R Narayanan, and Pratibha Patil is the first Deputy Chairperson of the house to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Lal Bahadur Shashtri, India’s second Prime Minister, was the first Leader of the House to lead the executive. L. K. Advani was the first non-Congress leader of the House.

At the launch, Mr. Naidu said that members should take lessons from his 12 predecessors. “As a humble successor to these 12 men of wisdom, over the last 17 months, I have been trying to impress upon the members only three words: Discuss, Debate and Decide. My anguish over the state of affairs in the House [has] had only limited impact so far.”

He also said; “As we turn a new leaf in the history of time, and as we resolved to make a difference in our lives and in our homes, let us make a difference to the state of affairs in the House of Elders as well.”

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