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Drama and surprises on last day of filing of nominations for RS polls

Archis Mohan/New Delhi 13 Mar 18 | 01:22 AM

BJP Rajya Sabha candidate industrialist Rajeev Chandrasekhar files his nomination for Rajya Sabha elections in the presence of BJP State President B. S. Yeddyurappa at Vidhana Soudha, in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI)

Elections to 58-Rajya Sabha seats are scheduled for March 23, but saw much drama across the political spectrum on the last day of filing of nominations on Monday.

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Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Naresh Agarwal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday. He was upset that the SP didn't re-nominate him to the Rajya Sabha. Agarwal said his son, an SP legislator, would vote for the BJP.

In comments that came for criticism from within the BJP, Agarwal said at the press conference at the BJP headquarters in the afternoon that the SP rejected his re-nomination to "accommodate someone who dances in Bollywood".

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "Shri Naresh Agarwal has joined Bhartiya Janata Party. He is welcome. However, his comments regarding Jaya Bachhan-ji are improper and unacceptable." On the social media, several BJP supporters said they were embarrassed that Agarwal, who had in recent past mocked Hindu gods and also called Kulbhushan Jadhav a terrorist.

Industrialist Rajeev Chandrasekhar finally shed his 'independent' status to join the BJP. The BJP has made its candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls from Karnataka. "I have been a quasi-BJP MP because things that I believe in - giving clean government and better governance, besides providing opportunities for all - are more closely aligned with BJP than any other political party," Chandrasekhar said.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane and senior journalist Kumar Ketkar were among the four candidates who filed their nominations for six Rajya Sabha seats from the state. Rane is a BJP candidate and the Congress has fielded Ketkar.

Rane quit the Shiv Sena in 2005 and later joined the Congress. He ended his over-a-decade-long association with the party in September last year, formed the Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh, and allied with the BJP-led NDA.

In Kerala, MP Veerendra Kumar, who walked out of Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) last year, filed his nomination as an independent candidate. He is backed by the ruling CPI-M led Left Democratic Front. The seat had fallen vacant after Veerendra Kumar's resignation, and he is likely to be re-elected.

In Kolkata, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, to whom the Trinamool Congress has extended support, filed his nomination for the Rajya Sabha election from West Bengal.

In Lucknow, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and several others filed their nominations. An election is in the offing for the 10-seats, for which 14 candidates have filed their nominations, including SP's Jaya Bachchan and BSP's Bhimrao Ambedkar.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley files nomination papers for Rajya Sabha elections in Lucknow. (Photo: ANI)

In Gujarat, the Congress infighting came to the fore with Gujarat state women's wing president Sonalben Patel stepped down after the party nominated state spokesperson Amee Yajnik. Congress leader PK Valera, a former bureaucrat, also filed his nomination as an independent.

Both, the BJP and Congress, can send two candidates each for the four vacancies, but the entry of Valera could queer the pitch for the Congress candidates.

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