IANS /New Delhi
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has several Rajya Sabha members serving as ministers in the federal cabinet, may field a dozen of them in the Lok Sabha elections, especially from states where it has adequate representation in assemblies and will be able to replace them in the upper house of parliament.
The Rajya Sabha MPs being considered by the party leadership include ministers Smriti Irani, Dharmendra Pradhan, Thawar Chand Gehlot, J P Nadda, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Chaudhary Birender Singh and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
Textile Minister Irani may again be fielded from Amethi, the parliamentary constituency represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, sources said.
Though defeating Gandhi on his family turf has been tough for Irani, she has accepted the challenge and continues to visit the constituency and meet locals.
At an event in Amethi recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Irani might have lost the elections but she won the people’s hearts.
“In the last five years, Smriti Iraniji has worked so hard for the development of this region. She never made you feel whether you made her win or lose, she worked more than the person who won from here,” Modi said.
Petroleum Minister Pradhan has emerged a key BJP face in Odisha after he was made a cabinet minister in the Modi government. Pradhan started his big political career as an MLA from the Pallahara seat in 2000.
In the 14th Lok Sabha, he represented the Deogarh parliamentary constituency, which does not exist after delimitation in 2008. He is likely to try his luck from some other seat in Odisha.
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, one of the most recognised BJP faces from Scheduled Castes in Madhya Pradesh, is likely to be fielded from a reserved seat in his home state. Gehlot, a four-time Lok Sabha MP from Shajapur, was elected to the Rajya Sabha in May 2012.
Health Minister Nadda did not contest the last Lok Sabha elections but may be fielded this time from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh if party veteran Shanta Kumar decides not to contest.
Law Minister Prasad is likely to be fielded from Patna Sahib in Bihar, the constituency of rebel BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha. The seat has a sizable number of Kayastha voters.
Minister for Minority Affairs Naqvi may be fielded from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, which he had won in 1998. Vijay Goel could be fielded from Chandni Chowk in Dedlhi, the seat represented by federal minister Harsh Vardhan. Vardhan may be shifted to the East Delhi seat, represented by Mahesh Girri.
Besides these ministers, some Rajya Sabha members may also be in the Lok Sabha poll fray.
Prabhat Jha, a former BJP president from MP, may be fielded from Gwalior, while actor-turned-politician Roopa Ganguly may get the party ticket from West Bengal, the sources said.
Twelve of the 25 ministers in the Modi cabinet are Rajya Sabha members, some of whom entered the upper house after losing the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The heavyweight ministers who are Rajya Sabha members include Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar and Civil Aviation and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Jaitley is unlikely to contest the polls for health reasons. Among the party’s top strategist, Jaitley lost his first parliamentary election from Amritsar in 2014 against Amarinder Singh of the Congress.
While the Lok Sabha members are elected directly by the people, the Rajya Sabha members are elected through indirect election in which members of the state legislative assemblies cast votes.
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