The BJP on Wednesday nominated Amit Shah for the Rajya Sabha (RS) elections in Gujarat. If all goes well, the party's national president will make his debut in Parliament as a Rajya Sabha member. Union Minister Smriti Irani has been renominated for the second seat from the state.
The RS polls will be held on August 8 to the three seats — of Irani, Dilip Pandya (BJP), and Ahmed Patel (Congress) — that will fall vacant on August 18. Shah and Irani will file their nominations on Friday, the last day for the process.
Senior BJP leader Jagat Prakash Nadda made the announcement after a Parliamentary Committee meeting, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah.
With Ahmed Patel being the sole candidate of the Congress, both Shah and Irani are expected to be elected uncontested. However, the BJP has the option of nominating a third candidate against Patel. It is speculated that the BJP may name this candidate on Thursday, after a meeting at the party headquarters, Shri Kamalm, in Gandhinagar.
It is also speculated that the BJP may get senior Congress MLA and chief whip in the Assembly, Balwantsinh Rajpoot, on its side and field him against Patel. Rajput is a close relative of former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela.
Shah started his political career as a BJP MLA in 1997 via bye-elections. He was a four-time MLA in the Gujarat Assembly and a Minister of State for Home in the then Narendra Modi government in the state, but had to resign after getting embroiled in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. He eventually became the party's Lok Sabha poll strategist in 2014 and helped the BJP win with a thumping majority.
Irani joined politics in 2003 as a BJP member and contested Lok Sabha polls in 2004 from the Chandni Chowk constituency in New Delhi, but lost to the Congress's Kapil Sibal. In August 2011, she was elected to the RS from Gujarat. She also lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections against Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi from Amethi. She was made a Cabinet minister in the Modi-led NDA government at the Centre.