The Union government has shortlisted Olympic bronze medallist Mary Kom and Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi, among others, to fill six of the seven vacancies in the nominated category of the Rajya Sabha, sources in the BJP said.
The other probable nominations are BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, former journalist and party ideologue Swapan Dasgupta, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and economist Narendra Jadhav. Sources said the government may decide between actor Anupam Kher and journalist Rajat Sharma for the seventh name.
The President recommends the names of the nominated members – drawn from fields such as literature, science, sports, art and social service – on the advice of the government.
While industry expert Ashok Ganguly and journalist HK Dua had retired from the Rajya Sabha last year, five others — Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer, lyricist Javed Akhtar, theatre personality B Jayashree, educationalist Mrinal Miri and economist Bhalchandra Mungekar — had hung up their boots on March 21. This had resulted in seven vacancies in the upper house, where the ruling BJP is in a minority.
Swamy, a Harvard-educated economist, was one of the petitioners in the 2G spectrum scam – which marked the decline of the Congress-led UPA. He is also an unabashed critic of finance minister Arun Jaitley.
Sources said Sidhu was likely to be offered a Rajya Sabha seat because the BJP leadership fears he will join the Aam Aadmi Party as its chief ministerial candidate in Punjab. Sidhu, a three-time Lok Sabha member from Amritsar, stepped down to make way for Jaitley during the 2014 general elections.
While Gopi was reportedly nominated because he is the BJP’s star campaigner in Kerala, Kom was picked to ensure representation from India’s north-eastern states.