Former MP Ram Shakal, RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha, classical dancer Sonal Mansingh and stone artist Raghunath Mohapatra were nominated to the Rajya Sabha on Saturday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement. The nominations were made by President Ram Nath Kovind on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the PMO said.
Article 80(1)(a) of the Constitution provides that the president can nominate to the Rajya Sabha 12 persons having special knowledge, or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art and social service. While there are already eight nominated members in the Rajya Sabha, four vacancies were filled today.
Here is what we know about the four newly-nominated Rajya Sabha members:
Ram Shakal: He is an eminent people’s leader and public representative from Uttar Pradesh, who has devoted his life for the welfare and well-being of the Dalit community, the PMO statement said. “A farmer leader, he is widely respected for championing the cause of farmers, labourers and migrants,” it said.
He has also been a three-time member of the Lok Sabha, representing the Robertsganj constituency of Uttar Pradesh.
Rakesh Sinha: RSS ideologue Sinha is the founder and honorary director of the Delhi-based think-tank India Policy Foundation. A professor at the Motilal Nehu College of the Delhi University, he is also a member of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR). He is also a columnist and regularly appears on TV defending the RSS and the BJP.
Raghunath Mohapatra: An architect and sculptor from Odisha, Mohapatra is an internationally renowned authority on stone carving.
Practicing since 1959, he has trained over 2,000 students. Mohapatra has contributed to the preservation of traditional sculpture and ancient monuments and has worked on the beautification of the Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri.
His famous works include a 6-feet-high statue of the Sun God carved in grey sandstone, in the Central Hall of Parliament; and the Wooden Buddha, Buddha Temple, Paris.
Sonal Mansingh: Among India’s foremost exponents of Indian classical dance, Mansingh has been performing Bharatnatyam and Odissi for over six decades. She is also a well-known choreographer, teacher, orator and social activist.
Mansingh founded the Centre for Indian Classical Dances in Delhi in 1977.