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Tohra missed sixth entry into RS
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who missed entering the Rajya Sabha for a record sixth term, had a distinct political career in which he never sought election to the State Assembly.

From 1969 till his death, he remained Member of Rajya Sabha for almost 21 years spanning over five terms.

In the last Rajya Sabha elections held on March 19, he overtook senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, to become the only Member to get elected to the Upper House for the sixth term. He was to take oath with other newly elected Rajya Sabha members from Punjab — Mr Ashwani Kumar, Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Manohar Singh Gill and Mr Dharam Pal Sabharwal — on the historic Baisakhi Day. But death wished otherwise.

There have been only six Parliamentarians who have been in Rajya Sabha for five terms. Others are Mr Bhupesh Gupta (Bengal), Mr Sita Ram Kesri (Bihar), Ms saroj Khaparde (Maharashtra) and Mr B.V. Abdulla Koya (Kerala) besides Mr Tohra and Mr Mukherjee.

In the present Rajya Sabha, Mr Tohra and Mr Pranab Mukherjee were the only members with five terms. Mr Mukherjee, who is now seeking election to the Lok Sabha from Bengal, is due to complete his fifth Rajya Sabha term on August 18, 2005.

Mr Tohra was also elected to the Lok Sabha (1977-79).

Since he could not take the oath, the seat won by him on the Shiromani Akali Dal ticket on March 19, will be declared vacant. Keeping in the view the present strength of legislators of the ruling Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janta Party combine, the seat won by Mr Tohra will now go to Congress, a loss to Shiromani Akali Dal. The Dal, even with the support of BJP, cannot retain this seat as and when bye-electin is held. Bye-lection cannot be combined with the election to fill seats falling vacant subsequently.

Two more Rajya Sabha members from Punjab - Ms Gurcharan Kaur (BJP) and Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra (Shiromani Akali Dal) are to retire on July 4 this year. In all probability bye-lection to the vacancy caused by Mr Tohra’s death would also be held then. Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra is Shiromani Akali Dal nominee for the Ropar Lok Sabha seat.

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