BJP on Monday nominated Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu as its Rajya Sabha candidate from Andhra Pradesh, where he has been assured of ruling TDP's support, and would field noted journalist M J Akbar from Madhya Pradesh and party vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe from Maharashtra for the biennial polls.
Party's general secretary Ram Madhav, whose name was doing rounds as a contender, is not among the six candidates with sources saying he is likely to get a bigger responsibility in the organisation following a rejig expected soon.
Other BJP candidates are Vikas Mahatme from Maharashtra, Shiv Pratap Shukla from Uttar Pradesh and Mahesh Poddar from Jharkhand.
It had yesterday released the first list of 12 candidates.
Shukla is a senior party leader from UP where the party wanted to field a Brahmin face, a key support base of BJP, ahead of the assembly polls next year. Poddar is a senior party leader from Jharkhand.
Madhav, who played an important role in BJP's win in Assam and earlier in Jammu and Kashmir, had said in a tweet yesterday that he would not be a candidate from Andhra Pradesh, as speculated.
A senior party functionary said Madhav had opted out of the Rajya Sabha candidacy.
Another general secretary Anil Jain was also a contender from a seat from Madhya Pradesh but Akbar, who represents Jharkhand in the Upper House, was preferred.
Sahasrabuddhe heads a think tank affiliated to the party and is also in charge of party affairs in Madhya Pradesh.
Prabhu currently represents Haryana in the Upper House but was shifted to Andhra Pradesh after ally TDP accepted its request.
Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu, Birender Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were among the 12 candidates whose names were announced yesterday.
Elections for the 57 seats will be held on June 11 and tomorrow is the last date for filing nominations. Bypoll for one seat in Gujarat will also be held the same day. It had fallen vacant following the death of Congress member Pravin Rashtrapal.
While 14 BJP members are retiring, its increased strength in states like Maharshtra, Haryana and Jharkhand is likely to help all its 18 candidates sail through.
Eminent journalist and two-term Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra does not figure in the list.
BJP is also keenly watching political developments in Uttarakhand where PDF, a group of six MLAs supporting the Congress government, had yesterday announced Dinesh Dhanai as its candidate, protesting the ruling party's choice of Pradeep Tamta, a confidante of Chief Minister Harish Rawat.
Party sources said they may back Dhanai but it is not clear yet if he has the support of even a majority of the PDF MLAs.
There is also the buzz in the party that it may field one more candidate from Madhya Pradesh which has three vacancies.
Going by the current strength in the assembly, ruling BJP is assured of winning two seats and Congress almost certain to bag one, but a section in the saffron party feels that it can make matters tricky for the opposition party by fielding an additional candidate.
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