The BJP on Monday fielded External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and party leader JM Thakor as its nominees for the by-elections to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. The move came hours after Dr Jaishankar, a career diplomat, formally joined the party in the presence of BJP working president JP Nadda.
"The Central Election Committee has decided the names of Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Jugalji Mathurji Thakor for the by-elections to the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) from Gujarat," a press release from the BJP read.
Besides Gujarat, the BJP also has a vacant Rajya Sabha seat in Bihar. Their former occupants - Union Ministers Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Ravishankar Prasad - were elected to the Lok Sabha in the recently concluded general elections.
Dr Jaishankar, who replaced BJP leader Sushma Swaraj as the External Affairs Minister, is regarded as a close aide of the Prime Minister and his "crisis manager" on foreign affairs. He had served as the Foreign Secretary during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first term as Prime Minister.
This March, he received the Padma Shri award from President Ram Nath Kovind.
Dr Jaishankar was also a key member of the team that worked on the nuclear deal with the United States under the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh. A former envoy to China, he has vast experience in dealing with the neighbouring country. Experts believe his experience will be valuable in improving relations with Beijing, badly hit after the Doklam stand-off in 2017.
(With inputs from ANI)