The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rajya Sabha leave after rap for Lata Mangeshkar

New Delhi, Nov. 28: Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar drew flak in the Rajya Sabha today for seeking permission for leave from the House for the entire winter session.

In a message faxed to the chairperson, Mangeshkar sought leave from November 18 — when the session began — till its end on December 20 on grounds of ill health and prior commitments. When deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah placed her request in the the House for approval or dismissal, it met with a unanimous “No”.

Congress chief whip Pranab Mukherjee was heard saying: “How many times has she come to the House'” Since she was nominated a year ago by the President in the category of eminent personalities, Mangeshkar has rarely been seen in the House. It is a major reason why her colleagues did not rush to her defence. In fact, not a single voice was raised in support of her leave petition.

Among those nominated to the House in the same category, Shabana Azmi, Kuldeep Nayyar, Fali S. Nariman, Nanaji Deshmukh and Kartar Singh Duggal are the most active. Filmmaker Mrinal Sen, however, rarely intervenes in discussions and debates. “Lata Mangeshkar tops the list of absentees,” said one Rajya Sabha member.

Faced with vehement members who seemed loath to sanction Mangeshkar’s leave, Heptullah asked: “Shall we put it to vote'” The House, however, agreed to grant leave but with a rebuke to the singer.

“We will grant her the leave this time but shall let her know the feelings of the House. It is not correct for a member to neglect her responsibilities,” said Heptullah to a wave of applause.

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