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As Rajya Sabha race hots up, Haryana caste bodies jockey to claim their stakes

Of the total five Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana, the elections for two Rajya Sabha seats will take place, if necessary, on June 10, while the last date for filing of nominations is May 31.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 27, 2022 8:35:53 am
In the BJP, former state finance minister Captain Abhimanyu (L), state party president Om Prakash Dhankar (R) and ex-state party chief Subhash Barala are considered to be among probable Rajya Sabha candidates from the Jat community. (Express File Photo)

Days after Haryana’s Aggarwal leaders demanded that a community member be nominated for the Rajya Sabha, state khap leaders have now pressed for representation for the Jat community in the Upper House from the BJP quota.

Of the total five Rajya Sabha seats from Haryana, the elections for two Rajya Sabha seats will take place, if necessary, on June 10, while the last date for filing of nominations is May 31. Given their numerical strength in the Haryana Assembly, one Rajya Sabha seat each is likely to be bagged by the ruling BJP-JJP alliance and the principal Opposition Congress.

Reflecting Haryana’s caste-centric politics, various caste-based organisations have come out in the state to stake their community members’ claims for the two Rajya Sabha seats to be vacated by the BJP’s Dushyant Kumar Gautam and media baron Subhash Chandra who had won the election as an independent candidate with the saffron party’s support.

Amid intensifying lobbying for the Rajya Sabha berths, the Sangwan khap leader and Independent MLA, Sombir Sangwan, who is supporting the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government, has urged the BJP leadership to send a Jat community member to the Upper House.

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“Gautam was elected to the Rajya Sabha when Chaudhary Birender Singh (a Jat) had resigned in the middle of his term in January 2020 after his son was elected to the Lok Sabha as a BJP candidate in the 2019 parliamentary polls. Now, the party should give representation to a Jat community member for this seat,” says Sangwan, adding that “Currently, of four BJP Rajya Sabha MPs from Haryana, there is no Jat MP. In proportion to the population too, one out of four members should be from the Jat community”. Sangwan along with a few other khap leaders held a press conference in Rohtak last Monday to amplify this pitch.

In the BJP, former state finance minister Captain Abhimanyu, state party president Om Prakash Dhankar and ex-state party chief Subhash Barala are considered to be among probable Rajya Sabha candidates from the Jat community. Captain Abhimanyu was the BJP’s co-incharge for the recent UP Assembly elections in which the party got a resounding victory.

Recently, Haryana Pradesh Vaish Mahasammelan president Rajiv Jain, a BJP leader, sent a letter to BJP chief JP Nadda and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, seeking representation for the community members in the Upper House. Jain’s wife Kavita Jain, a two-time MLA, had been a minister in the previous Khattar government. Kavita and ex-minister Vipul Goel are considered strong claimants from the Aggarwal community for the Rajya Sabha nomination from the BJP. Pitching for an Upper House nomination for a Vaish candidate, the community members say no one from them will be left in Parliament from Haryana following the completion of Chandra’s term.

The Brahmin leaders from the BJP as well as the Congress have also got active in their jockeying for a Rajya Sabha nomination for their community members. Former state BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma, a five-time legislator, is among the frontrunners among their probable candidates. The Rajya Sabha elections are taking place at a time when state Brahmin leaders are seeking more share in power. Among the state BJP leaders, one Rajya Sabha MP (Lt General DP Vats) and two Lok Sabha MPs (Arvind Sharma-Rohtak and Ramesh Kaushik-Sonipat) belong to the Brahmin community. Arvind Sharma recently pitched for a chief minister from the community while calling Khattar a CM who “doesn’t do any work by applying his own mind”. He also told a rally last Sunday that Ram Bilas Sharma was “cheated” when he was not made the CM in 2014, when the BJP had secured a majority for the first time in the state.

In the Congress camp, Kumari Selja, a Dalit leader, seems to be the frontrunner for a Rajya Sabha seat from the state. Selja was recently replaced by senior party leader and Jat stalwart Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s loyalist Udai Bhan as the state party chief. In March 2020 too she was an Upper House aspirant, but the party leadership preferred Hooda’s son Deepender for the seat.

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