Congress leader Sonia Gandhi is likely to be party's Rajya Sabha candidate from Rajasthan, sources said on Monday (February 12). She is currently a Lok Sabha MP from Raebareli, a traditional stronghold of the Congress party. However, it was earlier speculated that she might contest Rajya Sabha elections this time instead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The party is likely to field party leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi as a candidate from Karnataka. Syed Naseer Hussain is likely to be given the ticket to the Upper House of the Parliament again whereas Ajay Maken may also get the ticket, sources said.
Congress will announce its candidates in the next one to two days.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the Opposition during his address in the Parliament in the recently-concluded Budget Session and suggested that its leaders lacked the confidence to contest the Lok Sabha elections and were looking for the Rajya Sabha route to enter the Parliament.
"I see that many of you (Opposition) have even lost the courage to contest elections. Some seats were changed last time too, I have heard that many people are looking to change their seats this time as well. I have also heard that many people now want to go to Rajya Sabha instead of Lok Sabha. They are looking for their paths by assessing the situation," he had said during his reply for the Motion of Thanks to the President's address in Lok Sabha.
Congress under pressure
The elections will be held on 56 Rajya Sabha seats in 15 states, out of which, Congress will contest on nine seats. The BJP and TMC have already announced their Rajya Sabha candidates while Congress is yet to announce candidates.
According to sources, the Congress party is feeling the pressure from its state units to send leaders from respective states to Rajya Sabha. In states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan, the state unit was upset when in the last elections not even a single candidate belonging to the state was fielded. This time, Congress is under pressure to give Rajya Sabha tickets to the state leaders only.
In the last elections, Imran Pratapgarhi was given the ticket for Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra. This time, the Congress was expected to get one seat from the state, however, after the resignation of Ashok Chavan from the party, if some MLAs also leave the party, the party is likely to lose the seat from the state in such a scenario.
Out of the five Rajya Sabha seats from Rajasthan, Neeraj Dangi is the only Congress MP hailing from the state. Besides him, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari were sent to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. KC Venugopal and Dr Manmohan Singh also reached Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. This time, the state unit is demanding a leader hailing from the state to be sent to Rajya Sabha.
How many seats from which state?
Now after the retirement of Dr Manmanmohan Singh, sources are indicating that Congress may send former party president Sonia Gandhi to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan.
Congress party will also get one Rajya Sabha seat from Madhya Pradesh. However, there is a long list of names for this one seat too, in which the name of former chief minister Kamal Nath is also included. The names of former Mahila Congress President Shobha Ojha, current state president Jitu Patwari, Arun Yadav, Kamleshwar Patel are included.
Kamal Nath met Sonia Gandhi and expressed his desire to go to Rajya Sabha. On February 13, as a show of strength, he will host a dinner at his home. Kamal Nath claims that one-third of the MLAs of the state are with him.
Apart from this, Congress will get three seats from Karnataka, in which names of leaders like party leader Nasir Hussain, Youth Congress President BV Srinivas and Abhishek Manu Singhvi are being discussed.
From Bihar, the party can once again send state president Akhilesh Prasad Singh to the Rajya Sabha.
Apart from this, Congress will also get one seat from Telangana, two from Himachal Pradesh and one from Jharkhand.
If sources are to be believed, Congress would also like to bring economist and former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to the Rajya Sabha but it is not very keen on it.
Rajya Sabha elections
The Election Commission of India on January 29 announced the Rajya Sabha poll dates. The elections are all set to take place on February 27 and the votes will be counted on the same day. The term of office of 56 members are due to expire on their retirement in April, 2024.
According to the Election Commission's letter, the last date for nomination for Rajya Sabha elections is February 15. Scrutiny of nomination papers will be held on February 16. The last date for withdrawal of nominations has been kept as February 20. Voting will take place on February 27 between 9 am and 4 pm and counting of votes will take place on the same day at 5 pm.