In the year 1972, R L Bhatia was first elected to Lok Sabha from Amritsar Parliamentary Constituency. From 1975 to 1977, he was a member of the executive committee of Congress parliamentary party. As the member of the Indian National Congress,R L Bhatia was re elected to Lok Sabha from the same constituency at the 1980, 1985, 1992, 1996 and 1999 elections. In 1983, he became the Chairman of the Committee of petitions in Lok Sabha.
Several advisory committees of Parliament such as Ministry of Home Affairs, Education, Railways, Information & Broadcasting, Law and Justice and Company Affairs were honoured with the membership of R L Bhatia. In 1992, when the select committee was constituted for the amendment of the constitution, he was made a member of the committee. During his tenure as the member of Parliament, R.L.Bhatia delineated India as a delegate to the United Nations and took part in as a delegate in the 7th NAM summit held in Delhi in March 1983 Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting in New Delhi in November 1983, Sixth SAARC summit in Colombo in 1991 and the 5th meeting of coordinating countries of the action programme for economic cooperation of non aligned countries held in Delhi in 1986.
R L Bhatia also held the post of the President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee from1982 to 84 and also attributed the post of General Secretary of AICC in 1991. From 1983 to 84, R L Bhatia has also been the member of the India Council for Cultural Relations. From 1983 to 1990, he held the post of chairman of the India Bulgaria Friendship Society and the India GDR (East Germany) friendship Association. He has also served as the Co-chairman of All India Peace and Solidarity organization from 1981 to 1983, and the Vice President of Friends of Soviet Union from 1983 to 1984. As part of his AICC activities, he has visited dozens of other countries around the world.
From July 1992 until 1993, he served as the Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. Other than politics his personal interests include reading and gardening. R L Bhatia, with his experience and excellent statesmanship, guided the state Kerala to reach incredible heights in all fields.