By Prarthana Mitra
The BJP released the names of 18 candidates on Sunday for the upcoming biennial Rajya Sabha elections. The election, scheduled for March 23, will be conducted to replace 58 members of the 245-member strong Upper House.
Sixteen states go to the polls
There are 10 spots to be filled from Uttar Pradesh, while Bihar and Maharashtra have six each. There are five vacancies each from Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, and four each from Gujarat and Karnataka. Odisha, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have three spots each. Jharkhand has two vacant seats to be filled, while Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have one each.
Prominent BJP candidates
The ruling party nominated 18 candidates including general secretary and party spokesperson Saroj Pandey from Chhattisgarh, Anil Jain from Uttar Pradesh, and former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane, who recently quit the Congress to join the BJP.
Other prominent names among the BJP’s nominees are industrialist-politician Rajeev Chandrashekhar from Karnataka and Kirori Lal Meena from Rajasthan, who recently staged a return to the party after a decade. If Chandrashekhar wins, it will be his second term in the Rajya Sabha, being nominated as an Independent candidate in his first term. BJP spokespersons Anil Baluni and GVL Narasimha Rao are also on the list of candidates.
Opposition parties scramble for seats
Nominations submitted by the Congress party include party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi from West Bengal, senior journalist Kumar Ketkar from Maharashtra, along with eight other candidates.
Besides the BJP and Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Rashtriya Janta Dal and Janata Dal United also declared the names of their candidates for Rajya Sabha.
The TDP played it safe by re-nominating C.M. Ramesh for one seat and nominated Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar from Andhra Pradesh for the second seat.
Election overview and expectations
Fifty-eight seats will be vacated following the retirement of prominent Rajya Sabha members in April and May 2018.
Victory for the BJP nominees is near certain given the party’s strength across the state assemblies. In fact, it will only be a surprise if the party’s candidates are to lose. With the BJP keen to up its numbers in the Rajya Sabha, and choosing strategic nominees, the biennial elections are certain to change the tide in the Upper House.