In Rajya Sabha race, newcomers & state leaders

In Rajya Sabha race, newcomers & state leaders

From among the candidates for 58 Rajya Sabha seats, some of the first-time aspirants, state leaders eyeing national stage, and others newly rising in party.

Rajya Sabha nominations, Rajya Sabha MP, BJP in Rajya Sabha, Rajya Sabha elections, Congress in Rajya Sabha, BJP nomination in Rajya Sabha, Indian Express news
BJP candidates G V L Narasimha Rao, Ashok Bajpai,Kanta Kardam,Vijay Pal Singh Tomar,Harnath Singh Yadav and Sakal Deep Rajbhar after filing their nominations Monday (Express Photo: Vishal Srivastav)

Uttar Pradesh: 10 seats
Caste representatives and a farmers’ leader

Ashok Bajpai, BJP
Ashok Bajpai, SP founder member and ex-MLA, resigned from the UP Legislative Council last year to join the BJP. Bajpai, a Brahmin leader from Hardoi district, was declared SP candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Lucknow and he worked in the field for almost six months but the party replaced him at the last moment. Bajpai joined the BJP in presence of Rajnath Singh and his nomination to Rajya Sabha is being seen in the BJP cadre as a reward for sacrificing of MLC seat. Bajpai was elected MLA from Pihani in Hardoi in 1977 and 1985 as Janata Party nominee and again in 1989 as Janata Dal candidate. He was elected MLA on a SP ticket in 1993, 1996 ad 2002.

Kanta Kardam, BJP
Kanta Kardam is a full-time BJP leader from the Jatav community in Meerut. She started his career in 1989 from the Mandal Committee unit of the party in Meerut, held posts in the Mahila Morcha and SC Morcha, and was made party secretary and vice-president. Sources said she has also worked in RSS’s Seva Bharati in the past. She lost the mayoral election in Meerut recently and had lost an assembly election to Hastinapur in 2007. Sources in BJP said her nomination comes with an eye on the Dalit vote bank of BSP in western UP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP was reportedly concerned after a clash between Dalit and Thakurs in Saharanpur, after which BSP chief Mayawati resigned from Rajya Sabha complaining that she was not being allowed to raise issues of Dalits.

Harnath Singh Yadav, BJP
Harnath Singh Yadav is a former MLC who hails from to Mainpuri and later moved to Etah. A former RSS zila pracharak, he later served as BJP state general secretary. He is considered close to former CM Kalyan Singh. He was elected an MLC as an independent in 1996 and later with SP support in 2002 from Agra Graduate Constituency. He lost the council election in 2014, then the joined BJP. In the 2017 UP elections, the BJP appointed him in-charge of Yadav-dominated Mainpuri.


Sakal Deep Rajbhar, BJP
Sakal Deep Rajbhar is a BJP state executive member from Ballia and a leader of the backward caste Rajbhar that has a large population in eastern UP. He had contested an assembly election from Siar in Ballia in 2002 and finished second. According to BJP sources, he was unaware of the party’s decision to nominate him until Monday evening when party president Amit Shah reportedly asked him to get his papers ready. Sources said the decision was aimed at attracting Rajbhar caste votes and to counter Om Prakash Rajbhar, a UP minister (chief of BJP ally SBSP) who has often embarrassed the government with controversial remarks.

Vijay Pal Singh Tomar
Vijay Pal Singh Tomar is of the Thakur caste and had worked with Chaudhary Charan Singh in his early years in politics. Janata Dal MLA from Sardhana in Meerut district in 1991, he later joined the BJP and lost the election to the same seat in 2007. In the BJP, he has been district president of Meerut, state president of Kisan Morcha and later national president of the party’s farmers’ wing. The BJP used to project him as a farmers’ leader in western UP and his selection is aimed at wooing farmers ahead of Lok Sabha elections. Tomar was party in-charge for the Saharanpur urban local elections last year, which the BJP won. Tomar is strongly backed by the RSS. — written by Lalmani Verma


Amee Yagnik

Gujarat: 4 seats
Congress face on TV, retired IAS

Amee Yagnik, Congress
Little known outside the party until being appointed Congress spokesperson in 2012, she is now the Congress’s face on national TV defending the party. A lawyer in Gujarat High Court since 1984, specialising in labour laws and gender issues, she was assistant government pleader and additional public prosecutor as also standing counsel for the Centre during UPA rule. Among the founding members of the All India Federation of Women Lawyers and its president in the past, she holds a doctorate degree in science of law. She was part of the National Commission for Women-appointed inquiry panel on the gangrape of a Dalit college student, death of minor girls in BT cotton fields and female foeticide. She has presented papers at various universities abroad.

Kiritsinh Jitubha Rana, BJP
Rana, 54, of Surendranagar district, lost in the 2017 Assembly elections. Elected MLA in 1995, he was made minister-in-charge for Narmada district and associate-in-charge for Bhavnagar district. He also served as MoS in the cabinets of Keshubhai Patel from 1998 and Narendra Modi from 200, and was a secretary in the Gujarat BJP from 2003-06.

P K Valera, Independent
Valera, 76, a retired IAS officer, is currently a Gujarat PCC general secretary but contesting as an independent. He hails from the Dalit Vankar community, and reportedly sought the nomination when he met Rahul Gandhi, arguing that the party always nominated a Dalit from Gujarat. Valera has been chairman of the state grievances redressal cell, member of the committee for delimitation, and held other key posts before retiring as commissioner (fisheries). — Written by Syed Khalique Ahmed, Tanvir Siddiqui and Aditi Raja


Haryana CM M L Khattar congratulates Lt Gen (retired) D P Vats. (Express Photo: Jasbir Malhi)

Haryana: 1 seat
Retired general and legal adviser to khaps

Retired Lt. General D P Vats, BJP candidate and the sole Rajya Sabha contestant from Haryana, has been fighting a legal battle including in the Supreme Court on the behalf of khaps on the issue of choice in marriage.

“Marriages in the same gotra marriages should be avoided due to genetic reasons,” Vats, 67, told The Indian Express Monday. He has also been saying that such marriages should be avoided to check inbreeding.

In an affidavit filed to the Supreme Court in 2013, Vats had said, “It has been observed… incidence of diabetes, hypertension and obesity is much higher in South India where people marry their close blood relations. While Haryana’s performance is much better on health and sports fronts which are intra-related and concept of cross-breeding is major factor in these achievements.”

“The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment,” Vats said. He has been stressing that the khaps were not opposing lawful marriages.

“Vats has been our legal adviser. We express our gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for making him the BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidate,” Haryana’s Kandela Khap president Tek Ram Kandela said. “We will meet Vats after his election to the Rajya Sabha to demand amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act to ban same gotra and same village marriages.”

After filling his nomination, Vats went to the Haryana Assembly gallery Monday where Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar introduced him to members of the House. “Vats is the only candidate from Haryana. A formal announcement is to be made by the EC about the election but we can say that he would go to Rajya Sabha to raise Haryana’s interests,” Khattar in the Assembly.

Apart from serving in the Jat regiment for five years, Vats also was Commandant of Armed Forces Medical College, Pune. A resident of Thurana village in Hisar, Vats was chairman of Haryana Public Service Commission during the previous Congress regime. —Written by Sukhbir Siwach


Karnataka: 4 seats
Congress spanner in JD(S) wheel

B M Farookh, JD(S)
B M Farookh, 52, is a realtor whose wealth is valued to be in the range of Rs 700 crore. He is being fielded for the second time in two years by the JD(S). In 2016, Farookh, who is the brother of Congress MLA Moinuddin Bawa, lost when seven of the 40 JD(S) legislators voted against him. The seven rebels are now associated with the Congress. He reportedly assured JD(S) leaders that he would be able to manage to obtain enough support from JD(S) and Congress. Against him is G C Chandrashekhar, 50, a close aide of state party president G Parameshwara. His selection is expected to create some chaos as Chandrashekhar belongs to the Vokkaliga community. This could cause a dilemma to legislators of JD(S), which projects itself as the party of the Vokkaligas but is fielding Farookh.

L Hanumanthaiah, Congress
Dr L Hanumanthaiah, 56, a Dalit writer and former MLC is Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s pick for one of two Rajya Sabha seats guaranteed to the Congress. One of the reasons is an attempt by the Congress to consolidate the 23% Dalits in the state for the assembly polls. By fielding him, the Congress is targeting support from the “left” Dalit groups who have received fewer reservation and other benefits compared to their counterparts the “right” Dalits in Karnataka.

Syed Naseer Hussain, Congress
Syed Naseer Hussain, 52, a former Youth Congress leader from Bellary region, is an AICC spokesperson who holds a doctorate degree in international politics from JNU. He is the party’s surprise minority community pick in place of the veteran K Rehman Khan whose term ends on April 2. — Written by Johnson T A


Andhra & Telangana: 3 Seats each
KCR’s relative and Naidu’s lawyer

Joginapalli Santosh Kumar, 43, is the son of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s brother-in-law, and TRS secretary. He was KCR’s personal secretary for several years, is MD of the CM’s news channel, and takes care of day-to-day affairs at TRS Bhavan. Santosh, of Karimnagar, is an MBA and has a Masters degree in Personnel Management.

Banda Prakash, 64, was at the forefront of the Telangana agitation in Warangal although he was then with the Congress. A leader from the Mudiraj backward caste, he has a doctorate in public administration, runs a management institute, and is president of the Telangana Judo Association.

Badugula Lingaiah Yadav, 60, is a farmer and leader of the powerful Yadava community in Nalgonda, where he was once TDP president, and is now TRS general secretary.

Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar, a TDP veteran in Andhra Pradesh, is an advocate who heads the party’s legal cell and represented CM Chandrababu Naidu in several cases during Congress rule. He also interprets the legalities of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Vemireddy Prabhakar Reddy, popularly known as VPR, has been nominated by YSRCP. Hailing from Nellore, he owns the VPR Mining Infra Pvt Ltd. Reddy was close to late CM YSR Reddy. — Written by Sreenivas Janyala


Odisha: 3 seats
Scientist, educationist and candidate

Achyuta Samanta, BJD
Among the candidates for Odisha’s three Rajya Sabha seats is Achyuta Samanta, an educationist who started his career as a chemistry lecturer in 1987, and later founded the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS). Said to be the youngest chancellor of any Indian university, he is also the first Indian to simultaneously serve in UGC and AICTE, and is currently general president of the Indian Science Congress Association.


Samanta joined the BJD recently and was immediately offered a Rajya Sabha ticket. As founder of KISS, which educates 25,000 tribal children, Samanta is believed to enjoy goodwill among tribal communities. BJD leaders hope his entry will help blunt the BJP’s rise in western Odisha, specifically in the tribal districts. —Sampad Patnaik

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