Ram Shakal among 4 nominated to Rajya Sabha

Former MP Ram Shakal, RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha, classical dancer Sonal Mansingh and stone artist Raghunath Mohapatra were on Saturday nominated to the Rajya Sabha. (PTI File Photo)

Dalit-farmer politician Ram Shakal, an RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha, an acclaimed dancer Sonal Mansingh and a stone carving artiste Raghunath Mohapatra were nominated to Rajya Sabha on Saturday.

The nominations came following the vacancies caused due to the retirement of nominated members Sachin Tendulkar, Rekha, Anu Aga and K Parasaran, this year. With this, all the 12 nominated seats have been filled.

President Ram Nath Kovind made the appointments on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi exercising Article 80 of the Constitution under which the former can nominate 12 people to Rajya Sabha having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service. 

Shakal, a three-term BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh's Robertsganj (SC) between 1996 and 2004, belongs to the Dalit community and his appointment is seen as the Narendra Modi government's attempt to send a signal to Dalits, who lately rose in protest against the NDA over a series of atrocities against them, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

A postgraduate in political science from Gorakhpur University, the 55-year-old leader is also known for taking up agrarian issues and have been championing the cause of farmers, labourers and migrants.

Rakesh Sinha, a Delhi University professor with a doctorate in political science, is a well-known Sangh ideologue and the founder and honorary director of the Delhi-based think-tank 'India Policy Foundation'. At present, he is teaching at Motilal Nehru College. He is also currently a member of the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

Odisha Lalit Kala Akademi president Raghunath Mohapatra (75), whose six-feet high statue of the Sun God carved in grey sandstone adores the Parliament's Central Hall, is another new entrant to the Upper House. His selection is viewed as an attempt by the government to woo voters in the state, which would go to Assembly polls along with Lok Sabha elections.

A 2013 Padma Vibhushan winner, the second highest civilian award, Mohapatra is known for his contribution to the preservation of traditional sculpture and ancient monuments. Practising since 1959, Mohapatra has been bestowed the title 'Shilpi Guru' and has worked on the beautification of the Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri. 

Sonal Mansingh (74), a Padma Vibhushan winner who is among India's foremost exponents of Indian classical dance, has been performing Bharatnatyam and Odissi for over six decades. A well-known choreographer, teacher, orator and social activist, she is also trained in Manipuri and Kuchipudi dance forms, along with Hindustani classical vocals.

The current eight Rajya Sabha nominated members are Olympic bronze-medal winning boxer Mary Kom, columnist Swapan Dasgupta, advocate KTS Tulsi, economist Narendra Jadhav and BJP members Subramanian Swamy, Roopa Ganguly, Suresh Gopi and Sambhaji Chhatrapati.

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Ram Shakal among 4 nominated to Rajya Sabha

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