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BJP lists House nominees

New Delhi, Aug. 24: The BJP is understood to have shortlisted eight names today for nomination to the Rajya Sabha.

The names will be sent to the President for ratification before the list becomes formal.

All eight names were understood to have been cleared at a meeting attended by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his deputy .K. Advani, finance minister Jaswant Singh and BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu. Today’s meeting of the BJP brass was the second such to give a final shape to the Rajya Sabha list.

The list is said to include Council for Scientific and Industrial Research chairman R.A. Mashelkar, singer Bhupen Hazarika and RBI governor Bimal Jalan.

They will replace the nine nominated members — including Shabana Azmi, Mrinal Sen and Kuldip Nayyar — who will retire on Tuesday. The BJP reportedly will not renominate any of the retiring members.

The NDA government is taking a keen interest in the nominations because it can take care of its problem of numbers by catapulting its “sympathisers” to the Rajya Sabha. The NDA now has 114 members, six short of the Opposition tally.

The other prominent names that figured at today’s meeting included Telugu cinema doyen A. Nageshwara Rao, Pioneer editor Chandan Mitra, industrialist Nusli Wadia, actress Hema Malini, Isro chairman K. Kasturirangan, moderate Muslim leader Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, actor-wrestler Dara Singh and columnist Muzzafar Hussain, who is said to have an RSS leaning.

Speculations are rife about the likely nomination of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe representative.

Vijaya Shanti refusal

Vijaya Shanti today turned down the BJP’s offer of a Rajya Sabha nomination in favour of campaigning for a separate Telengana state. “It would send contradictory signals if I accept the offer at a time when I am fighting for the cause of Telengana,” said the BJP Mahila Morcha vice-president and top Telugu film star in Hyderabad.

She denied she had quit the BJP. “I am very much with the party,” she said in an apparent rebuttal of media reports that she was associating with members of the Telengana Rashtra Samiti. led by rebel Telugu Desam Party leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

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