With an eye on backward class and minority vote base, the Janata Dal (United) on Friday nominated three new faces in the Rajya Sabha polls.

The party announced the names of Ramnath Thakur, Harivansh and Kehkashan Parveen as candidates for the biennial elections to be held on February 7, 2014.

Mr. Thakur is the son of late Chief Minister and socialist leader Kapoori Thakur. Ms. Parveen is a former Mayor of Bhagalpur. Mr. Harivansh is the editor-in-chief of the Hindu daily Prabhat Khabar.

The three incumbent MPs — N.K. Singh, Shivanand Tiwari and Sabir Ali — were hopeful of a renomination, but the party’s decision to field new candidates has come as a surprise. Mr. Yadav called it the party’s “new decision” in line with the aim of empowering the extremely backward classes and women.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the classification of the backward classes was needed in Central government departments as well. He pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party was the strongest opponent of the JD (U)’s earlier proposal for the classification of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians.

Speaking at a function to mark Karpoori Thakur’s 90 birth anniversary, he also demanded Bharat Ratna for the socialist leader.