Updated: March 11, 2020 10:08:20 pm
The BJP on Wednesday announced its candidates for the Rajya Sabha. Abhay Bharadwaj, a prominent lawyer from Rajkot and former government officer and ex-MLA Ramila Bara who is a tribal from Sabarkantha.
Bharadwaj was the defence counsel in the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre case in which former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and 68 others were killed.
Son of a teacher couple, 66-year-old Bharadwaj has been associated with the BJP since its Bharatiya Jan Sangh days. He is the nephew of late Chiman Shukla, a BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha member. Bharadwaj is also a leading criminal lawyer and has an over four decade old practice.
Bharadwaj was defending a group of accused in the trial of the Gulberg Society massacre where a trial court had convicted 24 accused while acquitting 36 others in 2016.
Bharadwaj was appointed a part-time member of the 21st Law Commission of India in 2016. Around two years later, the Central government had appointed him on the committee to search and select presiding officers for Central Government Industrial Tribunals.
The state government has appointed him as special public prosecutor (SPP) in a case of alleged misuse of powers by retired IAS officer Pradip Sharma during the latter’s tenure as collector of Rajkot district. The government has also appointed him SPP in the illegal mining case involving Congress MLA Bhagwan Barad and alleged murder of former BJP leader Jayanti Bhanushali.
Bharadwaj is also a prominent figure in the local unit of the Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh in Rajkot but holds no position in the organisation. Similarly, he does not hold any office in the party organisation of the BJP.
This will be only the second election for the sexagenarian. He had made his electoral debut in 1995 when he contested Assembly election from Rajkot-II constituency (now known as Rajkot (west) seat) in 1995 after falling out with then sitting BJP MLA Vajubhai Vala. Bharadwaj contested against Vala as and Independent but came third as Vala retained the seat as a BJP nominee and Mansukh Joshi of Congress securing second-highest percentage of votes. However, later on, the lawyer patched up with Vala and returned to the BJP fold.
Bhardwaj’s stock has been on the rise since Vijay Rupani, who is representing Rajkot (west) Assembly constituency since late 2014 became Chief Minister of Gujarat in late 2016. Bhardwaj’s younger brother Nitin Bhardwaj is considered Rupani’s key man in Saurashtra and has also served as president of Rajkot city unit of the BJP.
Nitin has been elected corporator of Rajkot Municipal Corporation for the fourth time since the year 2000 and had also served as chairman of standing committee of the RMC. Presently, he is a member of the standing committee of the civic body. Bharadwaj said that if elected to Rajya Sabha, he would raise voices of farmers, fishermen, the poor and traders of Saurashtra in the upper house of the Parliament. Bharadwaj added that he had started his professional life as a journalist at the age of 18 and that he still considers himself a journalist.
Bara, a tribal leader from Sabarkantha district of North Gujarat, worked as a deputy secretary in the state secretariat and took voluntary retirement in 2002 to join the BJP. She was elected as an MLA from the Khedbrahma seat in an assembly bypoll held in 2004. She has also headed the Gujarat Tribal Development Corporation from 2015-2017 and has also been the state vice-president of the BJP for the last three terms.
Among the four candidates retiring in April, three are BJP candidates. This includes Mahant Shambhuprasadji Tundiya, Chunibhai Gohel and Lal Sinh Vadodia. Madhusudan Mistry is the only member from the Congress who will be retiring. Though the BJP is yet to announce the name of the remaining two candidates, with the current strength of 103 MLAs the party is expected to win at least two of the four seats. Congress currently has 73 MLAs which assures them of at least one Rajya Sabha seat.
The last date of filing nominations is March 13 and polls will be held on March 26.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.