In a significant move, the BJP leadership has decided not to return Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, its prominent Muslim face in the party, to the Rajya Sabha. Elections to 57 vacant RS seats from 15 states are going to be held on June 10. Naqvi is a Union Minister for Minority Affairs and also Deputy Speaker of the Rajya Sabha. His tenure as a member of the Upper House of Indian Parliament comes to end on June 29 this year.

Naqvi can continue as a minister for the next 6 months, within which period he has to be elected to either house of Parliament, Lok Sabha and or Rajya Sabha. With his entry into Rajya Sabha ruled out, speculation is rife in political circles on who will be the BJP’s Muslim face in Parliament. The BJP has no Muslim MP in the Lok Sabha, whereas the tenure of journalist-turned-politician M.J. Akbar and BJP spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam as Rajya Sabha members is going to end, respectively, on June 29 and July 4.

Now, all eyes are on the Lok Sabha by-election to be held for Rampur seat. It all

depends who the party chooses to represent it from the constituency. The Rampur by-election will decide who will be the Muslim face in the Modi government. According to BJP sources, everyone’s eyes are on who the party fields as its candidate, on which leader its bets. Would the BJP field only Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi from Rampur or any other leader?

Naqvi was a Union minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government after winning

elections in 1998. He has been a member of Rajya Sabha thrice. Rampur Lok Sabha seat has become vacant after the resignation of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, for which by-elections are going to be held on June 29. In such a situation, it is being speculated that BJP may field Naqvi for Rampur Lok Sabha by-election.