The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to take a decision this week on whether party veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi will be given berths in the Rajya Sabha, also known as “House of Elders”, said a party functionary familiar with the development.
The party that stormed back to power, winning 303 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats will also deliberate on a possible rejig in the organisational structure, including the appointment of a new party president to replace the incumbent Amit Shah, who has taken over as Union home minister.
After both Advani and Joshi decided not to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there has been speculation whether the two senior leaders will be moved to the Upper House of Parliament. In 2014, they were included in the BJP’s Margadarshak Mandal [advisory committee].
A former deputy prime minister, Advani is a nonagenarian, while Joshi, a former human resource development minister, is 85 years old.
There is a view within the party that a cut-off age should be imposed for Rajya Sabha as well, the party leader cited above said on the condition of anonymity. In 2014, when the BJP came to power, it declared 75 years as the age limit for ministerial positions. The norm was extended to Lok Sabha elections this year even though the party did not make an official announcement about it.
“They are both senior party leaders and have been a guiding force; so the party will take a call on their role at an upcoming meeting, which will be attended by the organisational secretaries and other senior functionaries,” the functionary said.
A decision on this issue is yet to be taken, said another functionary. The leader said the party would first prioritise berths for external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Ramvilas Paswan, leader of BJP’s ally, the Lok Janshakti Party.
Over the next two months, there are 10 vacancies coming up in the Rajya Sabha — two from Gujarat and one from Bihar where the incumbent MPs won the Lok Sabha polls; two from Assam as tenure of former PM Manmohan Singh and Santiuse Kujur [both from Congress] ends on June, and five from Tamil Nadu.
It is also unclear whether senior party leader and former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj who also declined to contest the LS polls on health grounds will be given a place in the Upper House.
Swaraj, 67, who had represented the Vidisha constituency in Madhya Pradesh in 2014 had announced she would not contest elections, citing health concerns.