The Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday named eminent lawyer and the former Union Minister, Ram Jethmalani, as the party nominee from Rajasthan for the Rajya Sabha elections.
The party also nominated Ajay Maru as candidate from Jharkhand, where the party requires 28 MLAs to get its candidate elected to the Rajya Sabha.
However, there was no word yet on actor Hema Malini, who is still hopeful of getting a Rajya Sabha berth.
According to a statement issued by the party, president Nitin Gadkari approved the name of Mr. Jethmalani, as BJP candidate for the second seat from Rajasthan. There was also no word on the re-nomination of another aspirant, Najma Heptullah, who has completed two terms in the Rajya Sabha. Ms. Heptullah was recently made the vice-president of the BJP.
Mr. Jethmalani had recently written to the BJP president expressing his desire to join the party and represent it in the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, where the party is in power. Interestingly, Mr. Jethmalani had unsuccessfully contested the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow against the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Though he stood as an independent candidate, Mr. Jethmalani was supported by the Congress.
The BJP, which has been strongly advocating quick implementation of the death penalty on Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, could find itself in an embarrassing situation as Mr. Jethmalani had earlier argued in the Rajya Sabha that Afzal Guru's death sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment.
Mr. Jethmalani served as a Union Minister in the United Front and NDA governments. Mr. Jethmalani, an independent MP, joined the BJP-led NDA Ministry in 1998 and then again in October 1999. However, he quit the Vajpayee government in July 2000.
Mr. Jethmalani's son Mahesh Jethmalani, also an advocate, contested the 2009 Lok Sabha polls on BJP ticket from North-Central Mumbai but lost to Priya Dutt of the Congress. He continues to be an active member of the BJP.