The BJP on Sunday announced a list of 14 candidates for the biennial polls to the Rajya Sabha, with former Union Minister R.P.N Singh — who joined the BJP ahead of the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh in 2022 — among those nominated. With 28 of its members retiring and the same number expected back, the list of 14 names has nominations from Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Haryana, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Bihar.
The list also clarifies what was only speculation till now, that Union Ministers who are Rajya Sabha members are being encouraged to contest the Lok Sabha polls, as none of the candidates appears to be renominated Ministers. Barring any changes in the second list, the policy of not repeating them stands. For example, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar, MP from Karnataka, has not been renominated from that State.
From Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is retiring nine MPs and getting seven seats, party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, former Agra Mayor Navin Jain (from a forward community), former State Minister Sangeeta Balwant (hailing from the Extremely Backward Classes (EBC)), former MLA Sadhna Singh (again from the forward community), Amarpal Maurya (from the OBC community) and Chaudhary Tejveer Singh are its nominee. The latter five candidates have maintained a low profile but have worked in the State BJP organisation for a long time; Mr. Maurya and Ms. Balwant contesting the 2022 Assembly polls.
In Bihar, where the BJP will gain one seat to two, it has nominated Bhim Singh, presently State vice-president of the party and belonging to the EBC category. He had been a Minister during the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government in the past. The other nominee, Dharmsheela Gupta, is currently the State president of BJP’s women’s wing and belongs to the Other Backward Class (OBC) category. Sushil Kumar Modi, who retired and has not been renominated, put out a statement congratulating the new nominees and vowed to continue working for the BJP.
From Chattisgarh, BJP has nominated Devendra Pratap Singh — a descendant of the erstwhile Raigarh royal family and the grandson of Chakradhar Singh Mahraj, the last king of separate Raigarh State; Mr. Singh is also a member of the BJP’s scheduled tribe cell. Here, the BJP has chosen not to repeat senior leader Saroj Pande.
Balancing the Thakur-Brahmin equation in Uttarakhand seems to have guided the choice of the party, with State unit chief Mahendra Bhatt being nominated, as Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami belongs to the Thakur community. He replaces BJP’s national media cell chief Anil Baluni, who may yet contest Lok Sabha polls.
In Haryana, Subhash Barala, a Jat leader and a former president of the party’s Haryana unit, has been nominated. The candidature of Mr. Barala is seen as an attempt by the local BJP to appease Jats, the largest community in the State, ahead of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections. This effort comes after Mr. Dhankar was replaced by Nayab Saini, an OBC, as party president recently.
Narayansa Bandage, former MLC and a prominent Hindutva activist, is the BJP’s nominee from Karnataka. He was among those jailed during the Emergency period; he had also been involved in the Ram Mandir movement. By choosing him ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the party has sent a message to the northern region of the State that it has stuck to the Hindutva ideology.
The BJP in West Bengal chose the chief spokesperson in the State and old-time party loyalist Samik Bhattacharya for the nomination. Mr. Bhattacharya was the BJP MLA from Basirhat Dakshin Assembly seat from 2014 to 2016.
Elections for 56 Rajya Sabha seats spread across 15 States are scheduled to be held on February 27, and the last date for filing nominations is February 15.