All five candidates for as many Rajya Sabha seats in Bihar were on Wednesday declared elected unopposed as no other nominations were filed, an official said. Bihar assembly secretary-cum-returning officer Bateshwar Nath Pandey told PTI that certificates were handed over to all the five candidates after the deadline for withdrawal of nomination papers at 3 pm.
Two candidates each were from the Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and one from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since no other candidate had filed nomination papers, the voting, which was scheduled on March 26, was done away with.
Elections were necessitated for the seats as they were falling vacant next month upon the expiry of the term of the sitting members all of whom belonged to the JD(U)-BJP combine in the state. The JD(U) candidates were Harivansh, who is currently the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, and Ram Nath Thakur. They will be serving a second consecutive term.
Harivansh is a veteran journalist, who has edited the Prabhat Khabar for long and is considered a confidant of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is also the JD(U)'s national president. Ram Nath Thakur is the son of former chief minister Karpoori Thakur, arguably the tallest OBC leader from Bihar who Kumar and other socialist leaders of his generation consider their political guru.
BJP candidate Vivek Thakur, a former MLC who makes his parliamentary debut, is the son of former Union minister C P Thakur, whose Rajya Sabha tenure ends next month. The RJD candidates are Prem Chand Gupta and Amarendra Dhari Singh.
Gupta, who is a close aide of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, hails from Haryana and had served as a minister in the UPA-1 government at the Centre. Singh, who is an entrepreneur, is not known for prior involvement in politics.
His candidature had caused much bewilderment in the five-party grand alliance headed by the RJD, one reason being that he is a Bhumihar, the upper caste known to be most vocally opposed to Lalu Prasad in Bihar.