Yesteryears Bollywood actress and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) star attraction Hema Malini is set to re-enter the Rajya Sabha -- this time as elected member from Karnataka.
She was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2003 for a six-year term by the then National Democratic Alliance (NDA) prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee of the BJP.
Her choice as BJP candidate for the March 3 poll was announced in New Delhi on late Friday, though there were several contenders from Karnataka BJP for the seat.
Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa on Saturday denied a rift in the state BJP unit over Hema Malini's selection.
"There is no rift. The party high command has taken the decision and we are all bound by it," he told reporters in Bellary, about 300 km from Karnataka capital Bangalore.
Yeddyurappa's denial comes in the midst of reports that he was pushing for nomination of his confidant and former BJP central minister V Dhanajaya Kumar.
The Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka became vacant following the death of M V Rajashekara Murthy of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) Dec 5.
The filmstar's victory is assured as the ruling BJP has 107 members, including the assembly speaker. It can bank on the support of one Independent member also. She would be in the Rajya Sabha till April 2, 2012.
The Congress has 71 members and JD-S 27. The two parties have not announced whether they plan to field a nominee of their own or a joint candidate.
With numbers against them, the two parties may not field a candidate.
Hema Malini is likely to file her papers Monday, the last day for doing so.
The state assembly is 225-member strong, including one nominated member.
However, its present strength is 206 following disqualification of 16 legislators -- 11 BJP and five Independents -- for rebelling against Yeddyurappa in September-October 2010.
The other three vacancies were caused by resignation of the Congress and JD-S members.
Popular as the 'dream girl' of Bollywood, Hema Malini's link with Karnataka was in connection with her role as the chirpy 'tongawali' Basanti in the Hindi blockbuster 'Sholay'. The film's Ramgarh was Ramanagaram, about 50 km from Bangalore.