The Congress’s Rajya Sabha woes don’t seem to be ending and the excitement over some names nominated by the party’s top leadership may end in a whimper. Haryana and Rajasthan may now see tough fights for the polls.
It seemed like smooth sailing for Ajay Maken to win the Haryana seat. But on the last day of filing nominations, the entry of Kartikeya Sharma, brother of Jessica Lall murder case convict Manu Sharma and media baron, has caused a flutter. With 10 MLAs of Ajay Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) committing support and some extra BJP votes likely to go to him, all Kartikeya needs to win is three Congress votes, which may not be tough.
For instance, there was a Congress MLAs’ meeting called but Kuldeep Bishnoi did not turn up. He is believed to be upset with the top leadership for being overshadowed by the Hoodas. A repeat of something like what happened in 2016 cannot be ruled out when independent candidate Subhash Chandra won by defeating Congress’s RK Anand. The reason cited was faulty ink, which later turned out to be a sham.
In Rajasthan, the situation seems to be equally dicey. The Congress candidates here are Randeep Surjewala, Pramod Tiwari, and Mukul Wasnik. However, media baron Subhash Chandra filed his nomination on the last day. Some Congress MLAs were openly upset about the fact that “outsiders” were given tickets and with assembly polls not too far away no one from the state unit was even considered for a Rajya Sabha berth. If cross-voting happens, it may put the candidature of at least one of the three in jeopardy.
The Rajya Sabha polls are now a prestige battle and as much of a fierce fight as the Lok Sabha elections are. It’s a game of one-upmanship. For a party with dwindling fortunes like the Congress, a loss here too will be humiliating. It would also have a deep impact on the perception of Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot’s ability to win in his state. And it would allow his opponents like Sachin Pilot to sharpen their attacks.
In Haryana, it could be a blow to the might of the Hoodas and more voices could come out against them as many are upset with the absolute power given to them. In the end, if things don’t work out, the Congress top leadership will be the loser once again.