A day after the Congress declared its candidates for the Rajya Sabha, the top brass has come under fire for leaving out prominent leaders, including party spokesperson Pawan Khera.
The Congress on Sunday announced 10 candidates for the June 10 Rajya Sabha polls, fielding former Union ministers P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh and Ajay Maken, as well as the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. The list includes two leaders — former Union minister Mukul Wasik (Rajasthan) and Vivek Tankha (Madhya Pradesh) — who were among the group of 23 leaders who had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in 2020 seeking large scale organisational overhaul.
However, some leaders are not pleased at being ‘left out’. In a post directed at his non-selection, Khera said, ‘Shayad meri tapasya main kuch kammi reh gayi'(maybe there was something missing in my penance).
‘शायद मेरी तपस्या में कुछ कमी रह गई’
— Pawan Khera 🇮🇳 (@Pawankhera) May 29, 2022
However, after speculation on his tweet, the Congress National Spokesperson seemed to ‘retract’ his earlier feelings. In another tweet, shared hours after the previous one, Khera said he had been given his identity by Congress, and that he still held on to that belief.
‘मुझे पहचान कांग्रेस ने दी है’
मैं अपनी इस बात से सहमत भी हूँ और इस पर अडिग भी हूँ। https://t.co/zbc6LNwy5n
— Pawan Khera 🇮🇳 (@Pawankhera) May 30, 2022
But it may be hard for the party to assuage other leaders, who were more direct in their complaint. “Sonia Ji our Congress president had personally committed to accommodating me in RS in 2003/04 when I joined Congress party on her behest. We weren’t in power then. Since then it’s been 18 Yrs they dint find an opportunity. Mr Imran is accommodated in RS frm Maha. I ask am I less deserving(sic),” said Congress leader and actor Nagma Arvind Morarji.
SoniaJi our Congress president had personally committed to accommodating me in RS in 2003/04 whn I joined Congressparty on her behest we weren’t in power thn.Since then it’s been 18Yrs they dint find an opportunity Mr Imran is accommodated in RS frm Maha I ask am I less deserving
— Nagma (@nagma_morarji) May 30, 2022
Nagma is the general secretary of the Mahila Congress in charge of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and Puducherry. She is also the Vice President of the Indian National Congress, Mumbai. She replied to Khera’s tweet, saying her 18 years had fallen short in front of Imran Prapthagiri from UP, who was accommodated as a candidate from Maharashtra.
“There is a coterie in the party and the same coterie will be transplanted in Parliament,” an ‘angry’ senior leader was quoted as saying in the Telegraph, who predicted ‘fresh trouble’ for the party in the coming days.
Congress Chooses ‘Outsiders’
Chidambaram has been fielded from Tamil Nadu, Ramesh from Karnataka, Maken from Haryana and Surjewala from Rajasthan, according to the list released by the party. The Congress also fielded Pramod Tiwari from Rajasthan, former Union minister Rajeev Shukla and Ranjeet Ranjan from Chhattisgarh and Imran Pratapgarhi from Maharashtra.
Of the 10 leaders, five are former Union ministers — Chidambaram, Ramesh, Maken, Shukla and Wasnik. Three belong to Uttar Pradesh — Shukla, Tiwari and Imran Pratapgarhi, who is also the head of the minority cell of the Congress.
Interestingly, the Congress has opted for ‘outsiders’ in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the two states in which the party is in power on its own.
Of the 55 vacancies arising in the Rajya Sabha in the next two months, seven Congress members — Chidambaram (Maharashtra), Ramesh (Karnataka), Ambika Soni (Punjab), Tankha (Madhya Pradesh), Pradeep Tamta (Uttarakhand), Kapil Sibal (Uttar Pradesh) and Chhaya Verma (Chhattisgarh) — will be completing their terms.
The Congress is likely to get 10 Rajya Sabha seats in the upcoming election cycle. The party is also likely to gain three seats in the Upper House if it manages to get all the three seats that are falling vacant in Rajasthan. While the party will get two seats in Chhattisgarh, where it is in power, it will get one seat each in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, where it shares power with other like-minded parties.
The Congress is also likely to get one seat each in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka on the strength of its MLAs in these states.
As for Jharkhand, Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Sunday said the ruling coalition in the state would field a joint candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat it is likely to win and dismissed suggestions that there was any discord with ally Congress. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader, however, did not specify whether the candidate would be from his party or the Congress and said the announcement of the name would be from Ranchi.
Three-time Rajya Sabha member Ramesh is set to get a fourth term from Karnataka.
Elections will be held on June 10 to fill 57 Rajya Sabha seats from 15 states falling vacant due to the retirement of members on different dates between June and August. The last date for filing nominations is May 31.
With inputs from agencies