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Dilemma for BJP, not enough ‘big names’ from UP to run for Rajya Sabha elections

In Uttar Pradeesh, BJP is likely to win at least eight seats but the party is running short of ‘big names’ to fill these berths.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2018 08:06 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP,Uttar Pradesh,Rajya Sabha
Some claimants for Rajya Sabha seats are now ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government. (PTI File Photo)

Ahead of next month’s elections for 59 Rajya Sabha seats, the BJP faces a paradoxical situation in Uttar Pradesh, where it looks set to win at least eight seats but is running short of ‘big names’ to fill these berths, party leaders familiar with the matter said.

The country’s most populous state has 10 vacant seats in the Upper House, of which eight are likely to go to the BJP – UP’s largest party with 312 MLAs in the 403-member assembly. The saffron party’s allies, Apna Dal and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party have another 13 MLAs who can help clinch another Rajya Sabha seat for the BJP in case of a divided Opposition.

“We do not have big names from the state,” a BJP leader said. “Most of those eyeing a Rajya Sabha berth are local leaders.” Some claimants for Rajya Sabha seats won last year’s assembly election and are now ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government, another BJP leader said.

OBC leader Vinay Katiyar’s term is ending, and there is no decision yet on giving him another term. Katiyar rose to prominence through the Ram Temple movement but has been out of eminence over the last couple of years.

Party insiders said general secretaries Arun Singh and Anil Jain, spokesman Bizay Sonkar Shastri, Scheduled Caste cell leader Ramesh Chandra Ratan, OBC Morcha chief Dara Singh Chauhan are prominent among those in the race for a Rajya Sabha seat from Uttar Pradesh.

Arun Singh is a chartered accountant and a relative of Union home minister Rajnath Singh. A gastroenterologist, Jain was offered party ticket to contest last year’s assembly elections, but declined. Ratan is a founding member of the Bahujan Samaj Party and crossed over to the BJP in 2008. He is currently the vice- president of the BJP’s SC morcha. Chauhan, too, is a former BSP leader who joined the BJP in 2015. Shastri is a former chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and an ex-MP.

Another BSP turncoat Jugal Kishore, the onetime all powerful coordinator of Mayawati’s party in eastern Uttar Pradesh who helped the BJP is last year’s polls, and BJP’s former state chief Laxmikant Bajpai, who lost the polls from Meerut, are other claimants for an RS seat.

A total of 17 BJP members in the Rajya Sabha are retiring in April and May. The party is set to gain two RS seats in Maharashtra and one each in Haryana, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand, which could help increase its current tally of 58 seats by at least 10.

The treasury benches’ strength will also improve with filling up of three seats in the nominated category.

The BJP is likely to suffer a fall in its tally in Gujarat and its Rajya Sabha slots may also come down in Bihar, where the party looks short of numbers to win a second berth. The terms of two Union ministers, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Dharmendra Pradhan who were elected from Bihar, are also ending in the coming months.

Among the outgoing BJP Rajya Sabha MPs are eight Union ministers, including six cabinet ministers. But most of them are likely to be re-elected even if they have to shift to other states.

The terms of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and junior minister Mansukh L Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala are ending along with that of another member from Gujarat. The BJP can, however, get only two of these four seats and one of the Union ministers will have to shift to another state to return to the Upper House. The terms of JP Nadda (Himachal Pradesh), social justice minister Thawarchand Gehlot and HRD minister Prakash Javadekar (both Madhya Pradesh) are also coming to an end.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who missed a Rajya Sabha seat last year, is again seen as a probable this time. Former civil aviation minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, too, is waiting in the wings for a nomination. The party’s national vice president Shyam Jaju, former state president Ajay Bhatt, former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and national spokesman Anil Baluni are among probables from Uttarakhand.

Spokesperson Sambit Patra and general secretary Saroj Pandey who lost the Lok Sabha election from Durg are claimants from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh respectively, BJP leaders familiar with the developments said.

First Published: Feb 25, 2018 08:05 IST