The byelection was necessitated following the death of seven-time Rajya Sabha member and pharmaceutical baron Mahendra Prasad on December 27 last year. As per the Election Commission’s notification, the byelection will be held on May 30.
Popularly known as King Mahendra among his followers, Prasad went to the Rajya Sabha for a record seventh time as nominee of different political parties. As Prasad was last elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2018 as the JD(U) member, CM Nitish Kumar’s party has a natural claim over the vacant seat within the NDA. Sources said other NDA allies in Bihar have agreed to leave the vacant seat for the JD(U) and extend their support to the JD(U) candidate in the byelection. The term of the new member, elected in this bypoll, will end on April 2, 2024.
Sources in JD(U) said if any person from the family of late King Mahendra comes to become the party’s nominee, the party leadership would happily accept such candidature. But so far, no member from Prasad’s family has staked claim. Some JD(U) leaders close to Prasad’s family want that his brother Bhola Sharma alias Umesh Sharma contests the bypoll as the party’s nominee. But Sharma has so far neither given any positive response nor declined the offer.
“If no member from Prasad’s family comes forward, the party leadership will prefer to choose a person from the organization. Party’s national election officer Aneel Hegde, who has been supervising the organization polls for the last several years, and the national secretary general K C Tyagi have emerged as the frontrunners,” a senior JD(U) leader told TOI on Saturday.
Hegde is a native of Mangalore in Karnataka. He is considered close to Nitish. When there were differences between the former party president Sharad Yadav and Nitish over organizational matters, Hegde took the side of the Bihar CM, another JD(U) leader said.
Earlier, Tyagi went to the Rajya Sabha as JD(U) nominee in a byelection in February 2013. His term ended in July 2016. “The party may like to send Tyagi to the Upper House once again for a period of two years to compensate his earlier short term,” sources in JD(U) said.
Name of the JD(U) national general secretary Afaque Ahmad Khan, who led the party’s victory in assembly polls in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, is also doing the rounds as possible candidate for the RS bypoll, said another leader. The name of a former IPS officer, who is close to Nitish, is also being considered, a senior JD(U) leader said on Saturday.
Though three days have elapsed since the issue of notification for the byelection, no person has so far filed nomination papers. May 19 is the last date for filing nomination papers. Sources in JD(U) said, as has been the practice in the past, CM Nitish Kumar would declare the name of the party candidate either on the last date of nomination or just a day before.