Bellary, Feb 19 (IANS) Yesteryears Bollywood actress and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Hema Malini is set to reenter the Rajya Sabha -- this time from Karnataka.
She was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2003 by the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Her choice as the BJP candidate for the March 3 election was announced in New Delhi late Friday though there were several contenders from the Karnataka BJP for the seat.
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa Saturday denied a rift in the state BJP unit over Hema Malini's selection.
"There is no rift. The party high command has taken the decision and we are all bound by it," he told reporters here, about 300 km from Bangalore.
Yeddyurappa's denial comes amid reports that he was pushing for the nomination of his confidant and former BJP central minister V. Dhananjaya Kumar.
The Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka became vacant following the death of M.V. Rajashekara Murthy of the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) Dec 5.
Hema Malini's victory is assured as the ruling BJP has 107 members, including the speaker, in the 225-seat assembly. It can bank on the support of one independent also.
The Congress has 71 members and the JD-S 27. The two parties have not announced whether they plan to field a nominee of their own or a joint candidate.
With numbers ranged against them, the two parties may not field a candidate.
Hema Malini is likely to file her papers Monday, the last day for doing so.
The assembly's present strength is 206 following the disqualification of 16 legislators -- 11 of BJP and five independents -- for rebelling against Yeddyurappa in September-October last year.
The other three vacancies were caused by the resignation of Congress and JD-S members.