Minister of External Affairs in the Union government, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and OBC youth leader from Mehsana, Jugalji Thakor (Lokhandwala), are all set to file their nominations as BJP candidates from Gujarat for the by-polls of two Rajya Sabha seats on Tuesday.
BJP declared the names late on Monday night as its candidates for the two Upper House seats. By-polls for the seats were necessitated following the resignations of national president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani who were elected to the Lok Sabha.
A retired IFS officer of 1977-batch, Jaishankar was a surprise inclusion in the Narendra Modi government. After his induction in the Union cabinet, Jaishankar was required to get elected to Parliament in six months’ time.
Earlier in the day, Jaishankar formally joined the BJP in the presence of party working president JP Nadda.
Meanwhile, the announcement of Thakor as the second candidate came as a surprise to many. Hailing from Mehsana district of North Gujarat, the 49-year-old is an OBC youth leader who is also the secretary of Gujarat BJP’s OBC Cell. By profession, he is into real estate and hotel business besides social work. Party sources said that Jugalji’s father, Mathurji, was a Congress loyalist.
Thakor played a significant role in strengthening the party among OBC communities in North Gujarat. He is also believed to have played a key role in getting party candidate, Bharatsinh Dabhi, elected from Patan constituency in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Sources said that during the OBC agitation launched by Alpesh Thakor in 2015-16, Jugalji played a crucial role in keeping the OBC voters with the BJP, especially in North Gujarat. “Jugalji has been rewarded by the party owing to all those efforts he made for the party,” a senior party worker, who has worked with Jugalji for years, said.
Both Shivshankar and Thakor, a party release said, will file their nominations for the by-polls Tuesday morning, at around 11.30. Tuesday is the last day for filing of nominations for the by-polls which have already turned controversial with the Election Commission of India declaring to hold the elections for the two seats separately and the Congress challenging it before the Supreme Court. The apex court is also expected to hear the petition tomorrow.
If the ECI’s decision of holding the two by-polls separately is upheld by the SC, the two BJP candidates are likely to win the elections quite comfortably. But if the decision is set aside by the apex court, BJP and Congress are likely to win one seat each.