With the last date of filling nominations for 56 Rajya Sabha seats ending on February 8, the BJP and the Congress are holding parleys to release the final list of candidates for elections from the 15 states to the Upper House slated for February 27.
On February 11, the BJP made public names of 14 candidates, dropping all union ministers who are Rajya Sabha members which indicated that they either have to contest Lok Sabha polls or will be asked to work for the party. Union ministers Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala from Gujarat, Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and L Murugan, both of whom represent Madhya Pradesh, Rajeev Chandrasekhar from Karnataka and Union minister Narayan Rane from Maharashtra are among those retiring from the House as members. However, the BJP still has to finalise candidates from key states including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
- Also read: Amit Shah backs Modi’s prediction of BJP winning 370 seats; to cross 400 after combining with NDA in LS polls
Similarly, the Congress is also in the process of finalising names of ten candidates from states like Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka where the party feels has enough votes for catapulting their leaders into Rajya Sabha. Some of the prominent opposition party leaders eying Rajya Sabha slots are Congress treasurer Ajay Maken, spokesperson Pawan Khera, former union minister Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, Arun Yadav, and eminent lawyer Abhishek Mani Singhvi.
Trinamool Congress party, too, has announced a list dominated by women leaders: re-nominating Sushmita Dev and Nadimul Haque, and offering maiden chance to journalist Sagarika Ghose, who is wife of leading TV anchor Rajdeep Sardesai, and Mamata Bala Thakur, who had won bye-elections in 2015 but lost next time in 2019, for election to the Upper House of Parliament.
The Rajya Sabha is expected to see number of BJP members going up slightly after the biennial elections as it won MP, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh in the recently held assembly polls.
Among the 15 BJP candidates, Sudhanshu Trivedi is the only outgoing parliamentarian being re-nominated to the House of Elders by the party. The BJP has mostly relied on OBC candidates to give them representation in the Upper House from the UP, that is political home to Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- an OBC leader and MP from Varanasi constituency. As per the announcement, four of the seven candidates are from backward castes -- R P N Singh (Kinthwar-Kurmi), former MP Chaudhary Tejveer Singh (Jat), state party general secretary Amarpal Maurya (Koeri) and former state minister Sangeeta Balwant (Bind).
Continuing with the trend of picking up unknown faces who have been silently working for the party are; Karnataka’s Narayansa K Bhandage and Devendra Pratap Singh from Chhattisgarh. The party has preferred another Jat, former Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala, to field from Haryana to send political message ahead of LS polls. Party spokesperson from West Bengal Samik Bhattacharya, and Uttarakhand state party president Mahendra Bhatt are other candidates who are likely to wade through the polls to become RS members.
Those retiring from the BJP include president JP Nadda and chief spokesperson and media in-charge Anil Baluni. Nadda is expected to be brought back to the Rajya Sabha from any other state since the BJP does not have adequate numbers after it lost the Himachal Pradesh which he was representing, to Congress in the last assembly polls. Ageing former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s active political career too is coming to an end.