Dharmendra Pradhan Filed nomination papers for Rajya Sabha election in Bhopal

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With an eye on the upcoming state polls, the BJP today announced its 18 candidates, including former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane and several of its central office bearers, for the Rajya Sabha's biennial elections. "Polling and counting of votes will be held on March 23 for all the four seats", added the official.

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.

RJD candidates Manoj Jha and Ashfaq Karim filed their nomination in the presence of the party's national vice-president Rabri Devi, state president Ram Chandra Purve and national executive member Tej Pratap Yadav.

Amee Yajnik and Naranbhai Rathwa are the candidates from Gujarat. The Congress has fielded Dr L Hanumanthaiah, Dr Syed Naseer Hussain and GC Chandrasekhar. Mansukh Mandavia, minister of state for road transport and highways, and shipping, chemicals and fertilizers; and Parshottam Rupala, minister of state for panchayati raj, agriculture and farmers welfare filed their nominations for the Rajya Sabha on Monday. The ruling party is hoping that by engineering defection in ranks of Congress and NCP and getting extra votes from Shiv Sena its fourth candidate will sail through. "We don't want to give it up without any fight", a Congress leader said.

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Among the other names in the Congress list are senior journalist Kumar Ketkar from Maharashtra, as per the list approved by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

The BJP has fielded Rajeev Chandrasekhar, while the JD (S) has fielded businessman BM Farooq.

The SP's decision to field Jaya Bachchan as the party's candidate from the single seat it is likely to win led to the resignation of party veteran Naresh Agarwal from the party.

The BJP on Monday queered the pitch for Rajya Sabha elections by fielding additional candidates in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, putting to test the attempts to forge an Opposition alliance. The Congress, which has 120 MLAs, can send at least two MPs with 45 votes each.

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