New Delhi : The BJP’s stormy petrel Subramaniam Swamy, former cricketer and television celebrity Navjot Sidhu, right wing columnist journalist Swapan Dasgupta are among those handpicked by the Modi Sarkar to fill up the vacancies in Rajya Sabha in the nominated category. An official communiqué is expected.
There are seven vacancies, but the government has chosen to make only six appointments — the other three being Maharashtra’s Dalit economist Dr Narendra Jadhav, who served in the planning commission during the previous UPA’s tenure, Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi, and Olympioan boxer Mary Kom. With the exception of Kom, all the nominees have some political angle to their personality.
Sidhu, a former MP from Amritsar is the only Sikh leader in the BJP from Punjab. He has been feeling ‘alienated’ after he was replaced by senior leader Arun Jaitley in Amritsar in the general elections in 2014. In fact, the buzz was that AAP may try to appropriate Sidhu and field him in the Punjab elections.
Dasgupta has been a vocal and articulate defender of the BJP’s cause for decades. He was tipped as the director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Gopi, too, gets a berth in the house of the elders with an eye on the state assembly polls in Kerala, and reportedly had a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently. In so far as Dalit economist Jadhav is concerned, a former vice-chancellor of Pune University, his nomination reflects the BJP’s new found love for the architect of the constitution, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
The five remaining seats are currently occupied by film star Rekha, cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar, industrialist Anu Agha, and two senior lawyers — K Parasaran and K T S Tulsi. The Rajya Sabha has 12 nominated members in its total strength of 245. On the government’s recommendation, the President nominates members from those with special knowledge or having made their mark in literature, science, art and social service.
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