New Delhi, March 10: Former Union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and one-time Bajrang Dal chief Vinay Katiyar were among the 18 names cleared by the BJP for the coming Rajya Sabha elections.
Sushma and Vikram Verma will contest from Madhya Pradesh, while Katiyar and Kalraj Mishra were named as the candidates from Uttar Pradesh.
Of the 18 names cleared by the central election committee today, three are scheduled castes and three scheduled tribes. Two women have made it to the list.
Jaitley will contest from Gujarat. The other two former MPs from the state — Lekhraj Bachani and A.K. Patel — seem to have fallen prey to chief minister Narendra Modi’s habit of picking new candidates. This year’s debutants, Vijay Bhai Rupani and Kasi Bhai Patel, are staunch Modi loyalists.
Modi’s bete noire, Keshubhai Patel, had reportedly met former party chief L.K. Advani to lobby for A.K. Patel. But it did not work and Modi had his way.
Shahnawaz Hussain, too, was given the cold shoulder. Despite crying hoarse that his loyalty to the party has put his life in danger, the former aviation minister has not been named as a candidate from Bihar.
Hussain had said he was getting threatening calls from the Chhota Shakeel gang as he is a Muslim in a Hindutva-spouting party. But this did not cut any ice with the BJP top brass.
“There was only one clear seat from Bihar. Ravi Shankar Prasad was an obvious candidate. So far as the second seat is concerned, we would have to consult our partners,” BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan said.
The BJP was hoping to get support from ally Janata Dal (United) in clinching the second seat, but the move seems to have been thwarted by the Dal (U).
The RSS point man in the BJP, Bal Apte, has got the nod from Maharashtra, while the party’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, S.S. Ahluwalia, will be nominated from Jharkhand.
The others on the list are Gopalji Vyas from Chhattisgarh, Narayan Singh Kesari and Anusuya Uikey from Madhya Pradesh, K.S. Shanappa from Karnataka and Krishna Lal Valmiki and Ram Das Aggarwal from Rajasthan.