The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday nominated Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu as its Rajya Sabha candidate from Andhra Pradesh, where he has been assured of ruling Telugu Desam Party’s support, and would field noted journalist M J Akbar from Madhya Pradesh and party vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe from Maharashtra for the biennial polls.
Party's general secretary Ram Madhav, whose name was doing rounds as a contender, is not among the six candidates with sources saying he is likely to get a bigger responsibility in the organisation following a rejig expected soon.
Other BJP candidates are Vikas Mahatme from Maharashtra, Shiv Pratap Shukla from Uttar Pradesh and Mahesh Poddar from Jharkhand.
It had on Sunday released the first list of 12 candidates. Shukla is a senior party leader from UP where the party wanted to field a Brahmin face, a key support base of the BJP, ahead of the assembly polls next year. Poddar is a senior party leader from Jharkhand.
Madhav, who played an important role in the BJP's win in Assam and earlier in Jammu and Kashmir, had said in a tweet on Sunday that he would not be a candidate from Andhra Pradesh, as speculated.
A senior party functionary said Madhav had opted out of the Rajya Sabha candidacy.
Another general secretary Anil Jain was also a contender from a seat from Madhya Pradesh but Akbar, who represents Jharkhand in the Upper House, was preferred.
Sahasrabuddhe heads a think tank affiliated to the party and is also in charge of party affairs in Madhya Pradesh. Prabhu currently represents Haryana in the Upper House but was shifted to Andhra Pradesh after ally TDP accepted its request.
Union Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu, Birender Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman, Piyush Goyal and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were among the 12 candidates whose names were announced on Sunday.
Elections for the 57 seats will be held on June 11 and on Tuesday is the last date for filing nominations. Bypoll for one seat in Gujarat will also be held the same day. It had fallen vacant following the death of Congress member Pravin Rashtrapal.
While 14 BJP members are retiring, its increased strength in states such as Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand is likely to help all its 18 candidates sail through.