Arun Shourie, Ram Jethmalani, actor Hema Malini yet to find place

The BJP's Parliamentary Board, chaired by party president Nitin Gadkari, on Friday finalised the names of four candidates for the Rajya Sabha election against “sure” seats for the party.

Against two slots from Madhya Pradesh, the Board decided to ask Anil Dave and Chandan Mitra to file their nomination papers; in Rajasthan the party has decided to field three-time Lok Sabha member V.P. Singh; and from Uttarakhand, the party's candidate will be Tarun Vijay.

Sources in the party sources said the BJP had a good chance of getting a second Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan where it could bank on a group of legislators led by Kirorilal Meena. Although the second name has not been finalised, Najma Heptullah could get the nomination.

Among the party heavyweights who have not found a place yet are Arun Shourie, Ram Jethmalani and Hema Malini.

It seems that after his outburst against the leadership soon after the party lost the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, describing it as “Alice in Blunderland,” the party thought it fit not to repeat Mr. Shourie for the Rajya Sabha.

Mr. Jethmalani, it was noted, has flirted with other political parties and cannot be relied upon to maintain party discipline. His letter to senior leader L.K. Advani, expressing interest in a Rajya Sabha nomination did not help.

As for Ms. Hema Malini, she has been accommodated in the national executive committee and could yet make it to the Rajya Sabha as Mr. Gadkari has been authorised to finalise candidates against slots where the party will have to get some additional votes.

In Karnataka, for example, there are four Rajya Sabha seats going a begging. The BJP has finalised two names — those were declared earlier and the Congress one. Besides, the BJP could get another MP elected as it would have some spare votes. In Jharkhand, the BJP has 18 MLAs and with some understanding it could file a successful candidate. In Orissa, the party is a marginal player and will have to decide to give its votes away or try its luck with its own candidate.

A week ago, the BJP Parliamentary Board cleared six candidates for the Upper House: Venkaiah Naidu and Ayanur Manjunath from Karnataka; Piyush Goyal from Maharashtra; Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi from Uttar Pradesh; Rajiv Pratap Rudy from Bihar; and Nandkumar Sai from Chhattisgarh.

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