15 first-time MPs to watch out for in the Lok Sabha

The Hindu, May 19, 2019

The 17th Lok Sabha will have 267 new faces. This includes some members such as Smriti Irani, Amit Shah, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kanimozhi, who are not new to the Parliament, but will be entering the lower House as members for the first time.

Besides, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Minister Satydev Pachauri, who had unsuccessfully fought the 2004 election, Uttar Pradesh leaders Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Keshari Devi Patel also registered their maiden win in the Lok Sabha election.

Among other winners are Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan’s brother Pashupati Kumar Paras, Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan, and industrialist Anurag Sharma.

Here is a list of 15 first-time members to watch out for in the Lok Sabha.

Controversial Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Pragya Thakur was elected from Bhopal after defeating veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh. A self-proclaimed Sadhvi, Pragya Thakur is an accused in the Malegaon blast case. She courted controversy for her statements on slain Mumbai cop Hemant Karkare, and the so-called medicinal properties of cow urine. The BJP’s disciplinary committee has initiated an inquiry into her comments calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assasin Nathuram Godse a patriot. Photo shows veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani being greeted by Ms. Thakur during the BJP’s meeting at the Central Hall of Parliament, in New Delhi.

Nakul Nath is a new entrant to dynastic politics. The newly-elected MP from Chhindwara is the son of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. The junior Nath is the only Congress MP from Madhya Pradesh. After the party wrested the State Assembly from BJP just six months ago, Congress lost in 28 out of 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh. Photo shows Nakul Nath (Centre) along with wife Priya and father Kamal Nath, taking out a rally in Chhindwara during the election campaign.

Little-known before March, Ramya Haridas emerged as one of the most prominent Congress politicians from Kerala when she won the Alathur Lok Sabha constituency by over one lakh votes on May 23. The 32-year-old Dalit woman had to fight against heavy odds – including sexist barbs and character assassination attempts – as she defeated two-time incumbent PK Biju in a constituency known as a citadel of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). She is the only woman elected to Lok Sabha from Kerala in 2019, and the second Dalit woman MP from the State so far.

In Punjab’s Gurdaspur, Bollywood actor Sunny Deol defeated Congress heavyweight and sitting MP Sunil Jakhar with a margin of 82,459 votes. His stepmother Hema Malini will once again represent Mathura in the Lok Sabha.

At the age of 28, Tejasvi Surya will be the BJP’s youngest MP in the 17th Lok Sabha. He won from Bangalore South. He has drawn a lot of attention since his nomination and has been repeatedly referred to as a “millennial candidate”. As a lawyer, Mr. Surya has represented BJP leaders such as B.S. Yeddyurappa and Pratap Simha as well as other BJP supporters in cases against them. Mr. Surya has been a BJP Yuva Morcha leader and former secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the RSS. He also headed the Karnataka BJP IT cell.

Jothimani S, elected from the Karur constituency, is the only woman MP from the Congress party in Tamil Nadu. The 43-year-old writer has a Masters in Philosophy from Annamalai University and is known for her short stories. Daughter of a farmer in Karur district’s Periya Thirumangalam village, Jothimani entered politics when she was 22 and became an active member of the Indian Youth Congress. She served as Indian Youth Congress national coordinator for Kerala in 2008 and as its general secretary from 2009 to 2012.

Chandrani Murmu (Centre) is the youngest-ever MP of Lok Sabha. The 25-year-old tribal woman won from Odisha’s Keonjhar on a BJP ticket. She defeated two-time BJP MP Ananta Nayak by a margin of 66,203 votes. Ms. Murmu earned her B. Tech degree from a Bhubaneswar-based engineering college. She is the granddaughter of former MP Hariharan Soren.

The Chief of BJP’s West Bengal unit, Dilip Ghosh, registered a win over Trinamool Congress’ Manas Ranjan Bhunia by a margin of 88,952 votes in Medinipur, to secure his entry to the Lok Sabha. Though an RSS pracharak, Mr. Ghosh’s entry into electoral politics happened in 2015 when he was made the State president of BJP. In the subsequent year, he tasted his maiden electoral victory in the West Bengal Assembly elections by defeating seven-time Congress MLA Gyan Singh Sohanpal in Kharagpur Sadar assembly segment. Photo shows Mr. Ghosh (Right) with BJP national president Amit Shah during a rally in Kolkata on August 11, 2018.

Cricketer-turned-BJP politician Gautam Gambhir will enter the Parliament after winning the East Delhi seat by a margin of nearly four lakh votes. In fact, Mr. Gambhir joined the party after the election schedule was announced. The 37-year-old’s campaign was muddled with controversy because of the bitter battle he fought with his rival Atishi of Aam Aadmi Party. She accused him of spreading a derogatory pamphlet about her, which he denied. Post elections, Ms. Atishi congratulated Mr. Gambhir, while the latter said he would give her a “big shout out” for the betterment of the constituency.

Hans Raj Hans was famous as a Punjabi Sufi singer before he joined politics. As a BJP candidate, he won the North West Delhi seat by a margin of more than five lakh votes. The 57-year-old, was picked at the last minute by BJP to replace former MP Udit Raj, who left the party and joined Congress after the ruling party denied him a ticket. While the singer will enter Parliament for the first time, he has been politically ambitious. In 2009, he unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha elections from Jalandhar, Punjab on a Shiromani Akali Dal ticket. He resigned from the party in 2014, joined the Congress in 2016, and jumped to the BJP later that year.

Mahua Moitra first drew national attention when videos of her showing the middle finger to television news anchor Arnab Goswami went viral. An investment banker who grew up in Kolkata, Ms. Moitra went to college in the United States and worked at JP Morgan for several years, before taking the plunge into politics. Ms. Moitra contested in the rural Krishnanagar constituency in Nadia district of West Bengal as the Trinamool Congress candidate. She defeated her BJP opponent – former footballer Kalyan Chaubey – by a margin of more than 65,000 votes.

This is the maiden victory not just for Sikkim’s Indra Hang Subba, but also to the party he belongs to. Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, launched five years ago, unseated 25-year-old SDF’s rule in the Himalayan State.

Imtiaz Jaleel is one of two All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha. A former journalist, Mr. Jaleel had contested and won from Aurangabad in the 2014 Assembly elections in Maharashtra, and has been a popular figure in the city since. He was almost denied a ticket as his party decided to give Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra to alliance partner Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. After Mr. Jaleel threatened to contest as an independent candidate, the VBA backed down and he was nominated. Mr. Jaleel defeated senior Shiv Sena leader Chandrakant Khaire by a narrow margin of almost 4,500 votes. It was the closest margin in the State.

Sanjay Bhatia, popularly referred as ‘Bunty Bhai’, becomes the MP defeating Congress leader with a second largest margin of 6,56,142 votes. Party insiders say that apart from being a Punjabi and close to Haryana Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar, his old association with the RSS also helped Mr. Bhatia get the ticket to contest from this seat dominated by the Punjabi community.

In West Bengal’s Jadhavpur constituency, Bengali actor Mimi Chakraborty scripted her maiden win on a Trinamool Congress ticket over Anupam Hazra of the BJP by a margin of over 2.95 lakh votes. Nusrat Jahan is another celebrity to be part of Trinamool Congress’s pack of 22 MPs. Both Ms. Chakraborty and Ms. Jahan were victims of vicious trolling for their attaire and cine-background.

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