BJP in a fix over Smriti's Irani's nomination for RS bypoll

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Bhopal, Apr 24: The appointment of Union Minister for Tribal Welfare Kantilal Bhuria as the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) has put the BJP in a fix on whether to field noted TV actress Smriti Irani from the vacant Rajya Sabha seat in the state as it had been originally planned.

The vacancy in the Rajya Sabha was created following the death of senior Congress leader Arjun Singh and the bypoll for this seat is scheduled to be held on May 12 for the remaining term of nearly one year.

"BJP was planning to field its Women's Wing president, Irani from the vacant seat but after the nomination of Bhuria it has been forced to do a rethink on the issue as it has set its eyes on dalit and tribal votes in view of its mission 2013 (to win the Assembly elections for the third time in a row), party sources said.

The situation has turned more complex with former Union Minister and senior tribal leader of the party Faggan Singh Kulaste announcing his interest to contest from the seat.

"I will be meeting senior party leaders including BJP president Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and the party''s national organisation secretary Ram Lal to present my candidature for the lone Rajya Sabha seat," Kulaste told PTI from Delhi.

State BJP leaders, however, pointed out that out of the total 11 Rajya Sabha seats in the state, nine are with the BJP and among them only one (Chandan Mitra) has been given to an outsider.

Therefore, in view of the party''s requirement at the national level, chances of Irani -- who actively campaigns for the party to influence women voters -- getting the party's nod for the seat is quite brighter than Kulaste, they said.

Kulaste had twice earlier staked claim for a Rajya Sabha berth from Madhya Pradesh but his request was denied by the Central party leadership in favour of Mitra and state BJP chief Prabhat Jha.

Other leaders from the state in race for this lone seat are Dilip Singh Bhuria, Thawar Chand Gehlot and former Union Minister Satya Narayan Jatia, sources said.

The notification for the Rajya Sabha bypoll will be issued tomorrow and nominations can be filed till May 2. The election if necessary will be held on May 12, official sources said.

BJP''s victory in the bypoll is almost certain as compared to the 115 votes required to win the bypoll, the party''s strength is 145 in the 230-member state Assembly.

The main opposition Congress has 66 seats, BSP seven, Bhartiya Janshakti five, Independents three, Samajwadi Party one while two seats -- Maheshwar and Jabera -- are vacant.

PTI

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