Ministers with two Rajya Sabha terms may be fielded as Lok Sabha candidates

Economic Times, June 14, 2023

Union ministers who have been Rajya Sabha MPs for two terms are believed to have been told to prepare for the 2024 polls as they may be fielded as Lok Sabha candidates, sources said on Tuesday. The BJP is also exploring the option to make senior ministers from the Rajya Sabha to enter the Lok Sabha poll fray, they said.

Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Bhupender Yadav and Mansukh Mandaviya, who are in their second terms in the Rajya Sabha, may be asked to contest the next Lok Sabha elections, sources said. Ashwini Vaishnaw and Jyotiraditya Scindia, who are also Rajya Sabha members, are also likely to contest the next Lok Sabha polls.

Scindia won from Guna Lok Sabha several times when he was in the Congress.

In the 2019 general elections, the BJP had fielded its then Union ministers and Rajya Sabha MPs Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani and Hardeep Singh Puri as candidates from Patna, Amethi and Amritsar respectively.

Pradhan, BJP’s key political manager, has already expressed his desire to contest the LS elections. He had won the 2009 Lok Sabha from Deogarh in Odisha, which has been divided into two constituencies — Dhenkanal and Sambhalpur — after delimitation.

A Chausa by caste, Pradhan’s candidature could positively impact several Lok Sabha seats in Odisha region where his caste forms a sizable number. In him, the BJP sees a future leader for the state in a post-Naveen Patnaik era.

Similarly, Yadav, a two-time Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan, has handled crucial political assignments for the BJP, including Gujarat and Bihar. This time, he has been included in the BJP’s national executive from Haryana, the state where he was born.

During his first public rally after becoming minister in his native place of Jamalpur in Rewari, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal described him as son of the soil indicating him as the future face of the party in the state.

He can easily contest from either Rajasthan or Haryana.

Mandaviya is among BJP’s most prominent Patidar leaders. He comes from Saurashtra region, where the party had performed badly in the 2017 assembly elections. Besides enjoying the trust of Prime Minister Modi, this Leuva Patidar leader was assigned with the responsibility of the Health Ministry amid the Covid pandemic. He hails from Bhavnagar in Gujarat.

Similarly, Piyush Goyal, the leader of the house in the Rajya Sabha and a third-time upper house member, is seen as the government’s go-to man for managing crisis both in and outside Parliament. He hails from Mumbai. It would be interesting to see whether the BJP will field Goyal who has been managing its campaign, resources, and logistics for the last several elections, a crucial job which he has been doing effectively.

The BJP is also contemplating to field Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, both Tamil Brahmins with roots in Tamil Nadu. While Sitharaman was born and brought up in Tamil Nadu, Jaishankar is from Delhi.

Last month, Sitharaman was present when 20 pontiffs from Tamil Nadu met the PM at his residence and handed over him to Sengol.

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