The Trinamool Congress Saturday nominated Jawhar Sircar, the former Prasar Bharati CEO, as its candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat vacated by former member Dinesh Trivedi.
The nomination of the retired bureaucrat, known for his outspoken views against the BJP-led Union government, comes amid Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s attempt to carve a larger national role in politics.
“We are delighted to nominate Mr.@jawharsircar in the Upper House of the Parliament. Mr. Sircar spent nearly 42 years in public service & was also the former CEO of Prasar Bharati. His invaluable contribution to public service shall help us serve our country even better!”, the TMC said in a statement on Twitter.
We are delighted to nominate Mr. @jawharsircar in the Upper House of the Parliament.
Mr. Sircar spent nearly 42 years in public service & was also the former CEO of Prasar Bharati. His invaluable contribution to public service shall help us serve our country even better!
— All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) July 24, 2021
The Rajya Sabha by-poll was necessitated after Trivedi, a former TMC lawmaker, jumped ship to the Bharatiya Janata Party before the West Bengal Assembly elections this year.
Sircar is almost certain to be elected as a Rajya Sabha member in the August 9 by-poll as the TMC enjoys an iron-clad majority in the Assembly. The last date for submitting nominations is July 29.
Sircar also served as Secretary in the Ministry of Culture from late-2008 to February 2012. He reported directly to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for much of his tenure. He quit as Prasar Bharati CEO in October 2016, four months ahead of his scheduled retirement in February 2017.
In the run-up to the West Bengal Assembly elections, Sircar was a prominent voice against the BJP.
On Saturday, Sircar said after his nomination: “The intolerant, dictatorial Narendra Modi regime should be opposed and resisted at all levels. This nomination will give me a better opportunity to speak more forcefully against this BJP government.”
“I had no interest in politics. But having been involved in government work for a long time, I know what administration is and how it should be run; what is the responsibility of the administration towards the citizens. I don’t think the country is going that way. So I want to go to Parliament and say that. That is the reason for going to Parliament on behalf of a political party,” Sircar added.
A senior TMC leader said Chief Minister Banerjee wanted to send a leader to Rajya Sabha who could operate from New Delhi. “Sircar has vast experience of work in the Central government, and as CEO of Prasar Bharati, he knows the media and the political scene in f Delhi. That experience will also help the party. He is also a very good speaker,” said this leader.
Before Sircar’s selection, several names had been touted within the TMC – former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha who joined the party before the election, former BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, and party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, who has previously been a Rajya Sabha member.
He is currently chairman of the board of governors of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, a premier research and teaching institute set up in 1973.
He has been on the governing bodies and trusts of numerous national-level cultural institutions, including the National Library and the National Archives. He is also associated with several universities and academic bodies.