BJP nominates Ram Jethmalani for RS polls

BJP has nominated eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani from Rajasthan for Rajya Sabha polls.

Updated: Jun 06, 2010, 17:28 PM IST

New Delhi: The BJP on Sunday nominated eminent
lawyer and former Union minister Ram Jethmalani from Rajasthan
for the Rajya Sabha elections but suspense remained over the
fate of yesteryear actress Hema Malini.

A BJP statement said party president Nitin Gadkari has
announced that Jethmalani, 87, as BJP candidate for the second
seat from Rajasthan.

Hema Malini may still be able to make it from
Karnataka or Orissa where BJP can field one candidate from
each state with the support of other parties. Party sources
said she has been a star campaigner and could be rewarded for

Another aspirant Najma Heptullah may find it difficult
for a renomination, party sources said, noting that she has
already completed two terms. Heptullah has already been made
vice-president of BJP.

Jethmalani had recently written to the BJP president
expressing his desire to join the party and represent it in
Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh where the party is in power.

Interestingly, Jethmalani had unsuccessfully contested
the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow against senior BJP
leader and then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Though he
stood as an independent candidate, Jethmalani was supported by
the Congress.

The lawyer has good relations with several BJP leaders,
including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.

BJP, which has been strongly advocating quick
implementation of the death penalty against Parliament attack
convict Afzal Guru, may find itself on a sticky wicket since
Jethmalani has earlier argued in Rajya Sabha that his
sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment.

BJP has been accusing the UPA government of not carrying
out the death sentence against Afzal for votebank politics and
appeasement of minorities.

Jethmalani has served as a Union minister in the United
Front and NDA governments. Jethmalani, an independent MP,
joined the BJP-led NDA ministry in 1998 and then again in
October 1999. However, he quit the Vajpayee government in July

Jethmalani`s son Mahesh, also an advocate, contested the
2009 Lok Sabha polls on a BJP ticket from north-central Mumbai
but lost to Priya Dutt of Congress. He continues to be an
active member of BJP.

Gadkari also nominated Ajay Maru as party`s candidate
from Jharkhand where the party requires 28 MLAs to get its
candidate elected to Rajya Sabha.

BJP has 28 MLAs in Jharkhand and it is learnt that it
has sought the support of NDA ally JD-U which has two MLAs.

The All-Jharkhand Students` Union with 5 MLAs is also
supporting the BJP in RS polls. At least three Independents
may also pitch in help BJP in the polls.