Kapila Vatsyayan resigns from Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi, Mar 24: Culture czarina and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) President Kapila Vatsayayan today resigned from the Rajya Sabha in the wake of the ''office of profit'' controversy.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission confirmed that it had received a Presidential Reference regarding 10 MPs, including Ms Vatsyayan, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, for allegedly holding offices of profit.

Dr Vatsayayan, who was nominated to the Upper House on February 22, sent in her resignation letter to Rajya Sabha Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat this morning, IGNCA sources said.

The resignation has been accepted.

Yesterday, Ms Gandhi had announced her resignation as a Lok Sabha member and Chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC) following complaints seeking her disqualification for holding an office of profit.

Earlier on Thursday, within hours of Congress President Sonia Gandhi announcing her resignation, two party leaders -- Dr Karan Singh and Mr Gurudas Kamat -- resigned on similar grounds from the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha respectively.

An eminent art historian, Dr Vatsayayan was accused by the Opposition of occupying office of profit by being the president of IGNCA.

She, along with Ms Shobhna Bharatiya, Vice-Chairperson and Editorial Director of the Hindustan Times, and noted filmmaker Shyam Benegal, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President for their contributions to their respective fields.

Dr. Vatsyayan had served the Government in several senior positions, including Secretary, Department of Culture and President, India International Centre. She was also on the faculties of the Universities of Delhi, Philadelphia and California (Santa Cruz).

Chief Election Commissioner B.B. Tandon, meanwhile, told reporters here that ''the President has issued a notification that was referred to the Election Commission for verification.'' Besides Ms Gandhi and Ms Vatsyayan and Dr Singh, the others named in the presidential reference are Mr Somnath Chatterjee (Chairman of Srinikatan-Shantinikatan Development Authority), Dr T Subbarami Reddy (Chairman, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams), Mr Mukul Roy, Mr Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma, Mr Chandrapal Singh, Mr Nilotpal Basu and Mr Sanjay Jharadia.

Mr Tandon, however, was unclear as what would be the EC's reaction on Ms Gandhi, Mr Karan Singh and Ms Kapila Vatsayan as they are no longer MPs.

The ripples are now being felt even in states with four Jammu and Kashmir legislators resigning from chairmanships of various boards that they had been holding after the controversy broke.

The Left parties have already made a statement that their MPs will not resign.

In his resignation letter, Dr Karan Singh however maintained he had not been holding any office of profit.

'' I am conviced that neither the presidentship of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations nor the Chairmanship of the Auroville Foundation constitutes offices of profit.

''I, however, feel that as my name has also figured in the media, and as in my public life of over half a century I have always striven to uphold the highest principles of polity and propriety, I should resign from the Rajya Sabha,'' said Dr Singh, who is also the Chairman of Rajya Sabha's Ethics Committee that had recommended the expulsion of two members of the House for ''misuse'' of the MPLAD scheme.

UNI

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