Tendulkar endorsing products sparks debate

Tendulkar endorsing products sparks debate

Bharat Ratna recipient Sachin Tendulkar, who has been endorsing products even after becoming a Rajya Sabha MP, has sparked off a quiet debate in  the Parliament secretariat with managers of both Houses being compelled to look for an answer to a query on whether a member can advertise for a private company.

Last November, Supreme Court advocate Pranesh wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee, and followed up with an RTI query, expressing his “deep anguish” over the government’s recommendations in bestowing Sachin Tendulkar with the highest civilian honour of “Bharat Ratna” on the grounds that the legendary cricketer had listed himself as an actor and not a cricket player by profession in income tax records.

Tendulkar’s I-T returns show that he claims to earn his livelihood by acting, Pranesh said. “When it comes to filing income tax, Sachin Tendulkar becomes an actor. Then how come he is being considered to be bestowed with the Bharat Ratna as a player of cricket?”

In an RTI application filed in January, the lawyer also questioned Tendulkar for not giving up product endorsements, which was not in conformity with the “high standards and dignified conduct” of being a Rajya Sabha member.

Tendulkar recently was in the news for lending his name to a globally-reputed car company during the auto expo, besides anchoring for an insurance company.

Parliamentary secretariat sources, however, said that no rules bar MPs from canvassing for private products.

All Rajya Sabha members are required to do is declare their business interest so that they are not allotted a parliamentary panel, which entertains subjects that could lead to conflicts of interests. In the Lok Sabha, it has not been codified so far, despite previous attempts.

Pranesh told Deccan Herald that he had sought information on Sachin Tendulkar’s professional background and advertising forays from the President. “It might sound strange, but I want to know if he is a cricketer as we have seen and known him, or if he is an actor as he has declared himself in I-T records,” Pranesh said, adding that he is waiting for a reply to queries raised in RTI applications.

A day before Tendulkar was conferred with the Bharat Ratna, Saurabh Vijay of the President’s office on February 3 informed Pranesh that his RTI application had been transferred to the Union Finance Ministry, as well as the Rajya Sabha since the issues were linked to it.

On February 11, the Rajya Sabha secretariat wrote to a Lok Sabha official, saying the “application” is being forwarded as it also concerns members of the lower house.
DH News Service

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