Rajya Sabha polls: BJP fields four aspirants, Congress in spot

Rajya Sabha polls: BJP fields four aspirants, Congress in spot

Former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane and senior journalist Kumar Ketkar were among the four candidates who filed their nominations on Monday for six Rajya Sabha seats.

The BJP, with its tally of 122 in the Assembly, is poised to get three Rajya Sabha seats, while the Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP look set to get one each.

The Rajya Sabha entry of V Muraleedharan, an outright Sangh Parivar activist and an impressive leader, has surely motivated the BJP workers in the state who were left baffled by the RS tickets extended by the party to new comers like Suresh Gopi and Alphons Kannanthanam.

The elections will be held on March 23 and the deadline for submission of nominations ends today. With BJP's oldest ally Shiv Sena announcing a split in the alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the party believes that Rane's presence will strengthen its base in the state. Consequently, Congress has named L. Hanumanthaiah, Syed Naseer Hussain and GC Chandrashekhar.

Baluni, who heads the party's media departments, has been fielded from Uttarakhand while Rao, a spokesperson and psephologist as well, will file his nomination from Uttar Pradesh. The Congress which has seven MLAs has also made a decision to support the BSP candidate.

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Rest two candidates filed their nomination papers as Independent. The BJP had earlier also announced the name of Oil and Natural Gas minister, Dharmendra Pradhan who has been fielded from Madhya Pradesh. So far, it was assumed that the elections would be unopposed, however, unexpectedly BJP nominated state women commission chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar as its fourth nominee. There are seven vacant seats in the Assembly.

Later speaking to reporters, UP deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma said, "If you see our list of Rajya Sabha candidates, all the regions have got representation on the basis of merit". It also expects support of MLAs from smaller parties- B R Patil (KJP), B Nagendra (independent) and Ashok Kheny (KMP), who have recently joined the Congress.

For the two seats in Gujarat, supporters of state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki and Shaktisinh Gohil were lobbying hard. Stalwarts like former union minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Milind Deora and Rajiv Shukla were in race.

Heading into elections, the Congress has been cautious in its steps to include all communities to key posts from the state to highlight wider representation of caste groups, hoping that these groups would back the party at the polls.

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