Indian Olympic sprinter PT Usha and composer Ilaiyaraaja nominated to parliament

Philanthropist Veerendra Heggade and screenwriter Vijayendra Prasad also appointed by outgoing President Ramanth Kovind

Indian music composer Ilaiyaraaja, left, and Olympic sprinter PT Usha have been nominated to parliament. Pictures: @ilaiyaraaja and @PTUshaOfficial on Twitter
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Indian Olympic sprinter PT Usha and music composer Ilaiyaraaja have been nominated to parliament by outgoing President Ramanth Kovind.

Philanthropist Veerendra Heggade and screenwriter Vijayendra Prasad were also appointed to the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of parliament, weeks before Mr Kovind's tenure ends on July 24.

While the Rajya Sabha has 245 seats, 233 members are elected and 12 are appointed by the president.

The nominees are usually people who have made significant contributions to art, literature or social work.

Seven of the 12 seats were vacant after some parliamentarians resigned as members.

Following the four appointments, the remaining three will be filled in the coming days.

Ms Usha, 58, from Kerala, known as the “Queen of Indian track and field”, is the recipient of Padma Shri — India’s fourth-highest civilian award.

“My sincere gratitude on being nominated to the Rajya Sabha. I will always give my best to any responsibility bestowed on me, and work towards the betterment of all of us Indians,” she wrote on Twitter.

She was congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who called her "an inspiration for every Indian".

Music maestro Ilaiyaraaja, who belongs to the Dalit community formerly known as untouchables, is an icon in the country. He has composed more than 7,000 songs for more than 1,000 movies and has performed in thousands of concerts.

He is the recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan — the second and third-highest civilian awards, respectively.

Veerendra Heggade, 73, from Karnataka, has been a prominent philanthropist for more than 50 years and a patron of arts and culture. He has led several initiatives focusing on rural development and self-employment.

He has been the Dharmadhikari, an administrator of the Dharmasthala Temple in Karnataka, since the age of 20.

His contribution to the society earned him the Padma Vibhushan in 2015.

“Shri Veerendra Heggade Ji is at the forefront of outstanding community service. I have had the opportunity to pray at the Dharmasthala Temple and also witness the great work he is doing in health, education and culture,” Mr Modi wrote on Twitter.

Philanthropist Veerendra Heggade, left, and screenwriter Vijayendra Prasad have been appointed to the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of parliament. Picture: Wikipedia

Fourth nominee Koduri Viswa Vijayendra Prasad, 80, is the noted screenwriter from Andhra Pradesh.

With more than 30 years' experience, Mr Prasad has written scripts for some of the biggest films in Telugu cinema, including his son SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster Bahubali series, and the film RRR.

He is also the brain behind the story of Bollywood megastar Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijan.

Updated: July 07, 2022, 10:31 AM