Pawar, Digvijaya Singh among 37 elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Congress’ Digvijaya Singh and former union ministers Kumari Selja and Murli Deora were among 37 candidates elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha Friday after the deadline for withdrawing nominations in the biennial elections to the upper house ended.

Polling will be held Feb 7, as scheduled, for the remaining 18 seats across four states – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and Odisha.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Pawar, former union minister Murli Deora (Congress) and two industrialists were among seven candidates elected unopposed from Maharashtra.

The others include Hussain Dalwai (Congress), industrialist Rajkumar Dhoot (Shiv Sena), leading criminal lawyer Majeed Memon (NCP), Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale and Pune industrialist Sanjay Kakade (independent).

It is the maiden foray in the upper house for Pawar, who had decided not to contest the Lok Sabha elections henceforth.

Kakade’s election was facilitated after the Shiv Sena decided against putting up a second nominee from its quota in the state while Athawale was the joint nominee of the BJP-Sena-RPI alliance.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Delhi unit chief Vijay Goel was elected to the upper house from Rajasthan, while Kumari Selja (Congress) and Ram Kumar (Indian National Lok Dal) were elected without contest from Haryana.

Selja, a known detractor of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had resigned as union minister for social justice and poverty alleviation earlier this week to file her nomination for the Rajya Sabha seat.

The Congress ticket to her at the last minute came as a surprise to party leaders, especially the Hooda faction which was pushing for its own candidates. Selja was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Ambala (reserved) Lok Sabha seat in Haryana in the 2009 general elections.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) candidate Prem Kumar Gupta and Independent candidate Parimal Nathwani were elected from Jharkhand. The latter was supported by the BJP and the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU).

All three candidates fielded by Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal-United and two from opposition BJP were declared elected unopposed from the state.

The five candidates are Ramnath Thakur, Harivansh and Kahkashan Perween of the JD-U and C.P. Thakur and R.K. Sinha of the BJP.

The JD-U had last week announced it was not re-nominating its retiring MPs — N.K. Singh, Shivanand Tiwari and Sabir Ali — all of whom have been offered an opportunity to contest the Lok Sabha polls.

It had announced three new faces for the elections — Thakur, the son of former chief minister Karpoori Thakur; Harivansh, the editor-in-chief of Hindi newspaper Prabhat Khabar; and Perween who is chairman of the state women’s commission.

On the other hand, the BJP renominated Thakur, a former union minister, and fielded Sinha, who runs SIS (Security and Intelligence Services India Ltd.), one of the biggest private security agencies in the country.

In Tamil Nadu, four candidates of Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK and one each from DMK and CPI-M were declared elected.

The newly-elected members are Sasikala Pushpa, K. Selvaraj, S. Muthukaruppan, Vijila Sathyananth (all AIADMK), Trichi N. Siva (DMK) and T.K. Rangarajan of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

In Meghalaya, Wansuk Syiem of the Congress was Friday re-elected unopposed, while party colleague and former state minister Viplove Thakur was declared elected from Himachal Pradesh.

In Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh, along with BJP vice-president Prabhat Jha and party leader Satya Narayan Jatiya were elected to the upper house.