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More voice to small states, clip govt role, say RS members

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New Delhi: Setting the minimum number of members from a state at six and clipping the role of the Central government in nomination of members by the President to the Upper House are some of the suggestions to strengthen the house's role as the Council of States.

Participating in the discussion on the role of Rajya Sabha in Indian polity, members cutting across parties stressed on amplifying the voice of smaller states in the Upper House.

Many members supported the idea of raising smaller states' representation in the House, irrespective of their size of population.

"Even small states should have at least six members. We have seen members from the northeast states standing and speaking but no one listens to them. People may say that Mizoram has only one member in the Lok Sabha so how can they have six members here. I do not think that argument is valid," Samajwadi Party member Ram Gopal Yadav said.

Yadav also pitched for discussion on issues related to judiciary in the House.

Biju Janata Dal leader Prasanna Acharya concurred with the idea of raising smaller states' representation in the House and also wanted the role of government curtailed completely in nomination of members from across various fields such as arts, science, sports and music.

"There should not be any interference by the Central government. No politics should be there in nomination of members by the President of India," he said.

Birendra Prasad Baishya of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) said members of smaller states should get equal opportunity in raising their issues.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Naresh Gujral suggested that if house is disrupted, then additional time must be given. He also suggested to hold at least one special session in a year to discuss issues of national importance such as farmers' distress.

On the first day of the 250th session of Rajya Sabha, a landmark event, members also raised concern over encroachment by the Central government into the domains of states.

T.K. Rangarajan of the Communist Party of India-Marxist said that Lok Sabha members represent a constituency while Rajya Sabha represents the states. He said that each state has its own distinct culture, language and food and they must remain so.

"The way this government is functioning you are encroaching upon our linguistic area, cultural area. The fear of the people, members this side, especially from Tamil Nadu, we are afraid that this country is heading towards one language, one culture, one food. This is very dangerous," he said.

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