Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekar joins BJP

BJP, Congress announce list of candidates for Rajya Sabha polls to be held on March 23

Balram Naik announced as Congress RS candidate

The nomination process for the elections to UP's 10 Rajya Sabha seats will close on March 12 and polling, if necessary, will be held on March 23.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "Shri Naresh Agarwal has joined Bhartiya Janata Party".

Out of the six states from which BJP candidates for the Upper House polls have been announced, five of them are now ruled by the saffron party. It hopes to increase its tally to 92 following the March 23 elections.

The surprise pick from Uttar Pradesh was, however, Sakal Deep Rajbhar.

While the BJP is poised to win its all four seats, the Congress is expected to get one seat, based on the strength of its members in the state Assembly.

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Congress also seems to be leaving nothing to chance after it faced one of the toughest Rajya Sabha elections in August past year when senior leader Ahmed Patel won by a narrow margin.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar is among 18 candidates named by BJP for the Rajya Sabha polls. "And once Congress's candidate fails to secure the quota, counting goes for second preference and we can put all our 122 second preference votes in favour of Rahatkar", said a senior BJP leader. Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Mansukh L Mandaviya and Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Parshottam Rupala will contest election from Gujarat. "This might split the votes of Congress MLAs", Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said. Many BJP leaders were in the fray but the party high command chose to opt for Baluni. From Uttarakhand, Anil Baluni will fight while from Rajasthan, Kirori Lal Meena, who rejoined the BJP, and Madan Lal Saini were given ticket.

He ended his over-a-decade-long association with the party in September past year, formed the Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh, and allied with the BJP-led NDA. Party leaders said the little-known leader from a most-backward caste had been nominated to send the message that the BJP cared for deprived sections. The party nominated three candidates from Karnataka, including Dalit poet L. Hanumanthaiah and Vokkalinga leader G.C. Chandrasekhar. Chandrashekar won twice in 2006 and 2012, both times getting additional votes from the BJP and JD (S).

Among the other Congress nominees are party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi from West Bengal, who has been offered support by the Trinamool Congress.

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