The five individuals nominated by AAP for the Rajya Sabha have a track record of social work, grassroots level work and an interest in education.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has nominated cricketer Harbhajan Singh, Delhi MLA Raghav Chadha, Lovely Professional University (LPU) Founder Ashok Mittal, IIT Delhi professor Sandeep Pathak and industrialist Sanjeev Arora to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab.
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Five seats in the Upper House from Punjab will fall vacant on April 9 when the terms of the current MPs expire. At present, the seats are held by Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo from the Congress, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Naresh Gujral from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and Shwait Malik from the BJP. Elections to fill the seats will be held on March 31 and nominations will have to be filed by March 21.
Punjab has a total of seven seats in the Rajya Sabha. The term of two more members -- SAD’s Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Congress’s Ambika Soni -- will end on July 4, after which elections for these two seats will be held.
The AAP recently stormed into power in Punjab, winning 92 seats in the 117-member assembly. At present, AAP’s strength in the Rajya Sabha is three, which will rise to eight after the Rajya Sabha polls.
Here’s a look at the five nominated members from Punjab:
Harbhajan Singh: Former spinner Harbhajan Singh, 41, who has taken over 700 wickets in his 18-year career, recently retired from active sports. Singh had met with former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu before the elections, a move that fuelled speculation of his debut in politics as a member of the Congress party. However, the spinner denied it and even congratulated his friend Bhagwant Mann for becoming the new CM of Punjab.
Singh, who hails from Jalandhar, is known for his philanthropic projects and social work in Punjab. Nominating Harbhajan Singh is likely to help AAP strengthen its connection with the youth. Singh could also help build a sports university in Punjab, as promised by the CM.
Raghav Chadha: Chadha has been associated with the AAP for several years and is currently an MLA from Delhi’s Rajindra Nagar and the vice-chairman of the Delhi Jal Board. Chadha was the party’s co-in-charge in Punjab.
“I'll raise the issue of Punjab's people and protect their interests in parliament,” ANI quoted Chadha as saying while filing nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha.
Sandeep Pathak: Pathak is a professor of physics at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, who has been working with the AAP for a few years now. He completed his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2011 and has been working as an assistant professor in IIT since 2016. Mostly working behind the scenes, Pathak has been instrumental in building AAP’s strategy for the Punjab elections. He is said to have stayed in Punjab for almost three years to help form an organisation at the booth level, ANI reported.
Ashok Mittal: Ashok Kumar Mittal is the founder of Lovely Professional University and is known for his social service and contribution to education.
Sanjeev Arora: An entrepreneur from Punjab, Sanjeev Arora is the founder of Krishna Pran Breast Cancer Care Charitable Trust. Arora started the cancer trust after losing both parents to the disease. The Ludhiana-based industrialist is known for his charitable work spanning over 15 years.