BJP nominates Ram Jethmalani for RS polls
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Last Updated: Sunday, June 06, 2010, 17:28
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 that.

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 2000.

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.


First Published: Sunday, June 06, 2010, 17:28

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