In a surprise move,the ruling Samajwadi Party did not name any candidate for the second vacant Rajya Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh,allowing Congress to field its nine-time MLA from Rampur Khas Pramod Tiwari as party candidate on Tuesday - the the last date for filing of nomination papers.
Tiwari and SP candidate Kanaklata Singh are the only two nominations for the two vacant posts and will be elected unopposed. The two seats fell vacant following death of senior SP leader Mohan Singh and disqualification of former Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rasheed Masood.
The sudden turn of events have become significant as SPs likely support to Congress candidate comes at a time when leaders of both the parties are condemning each other during their campaigns for Lok Sabha election. It also comes at a time when SP is busy wooing Muslims after Muzaffarnagar violence and Congress is trying to focus on retaining its existing Lok Sabha seats after its poor performance in recent Assembly elections in three states and Delhi.
It is,however,not for the first time that SP has supported a Congress candidate for Rajya Sabha. In 2008, Mohd Adib Khan was jointly fielded by Congress and SP and was elected unopposed. However,Adib had filed his nomination papers as independent candidate and Tiwari has been given symbol of Congress to contest. I am thankful to everyone for trusting me. I had decided that I would only contest if Congress gives me the symbol and announces my name, said Tiwari.
According to sources in the party,Congress high command was told Monday evening that SP would support only Tiwaris candidature. After long discussions in Delhi,it was around 12:30 pm on Tuesday that Tiwari was told that he would be given party symbol to contest. He later filed his nomination in the presence of state Congress chief Nirmal Khatri,Congress Legislature Party leader Pradeep Mathur and other senior party leaders.
His nomination was proposed by 10 congress MLAs,including former Congress state president and party MLA from Lucknow Cantonment Rita Bahuguna Joshi.
Tiwari claims to be the only MLA in the country to have won from the same seat and single party symbol for nine times in a row. He has been representing Rampur Khas for past 32 years. He was elected as MLA for the first time in 1980 and remained minister during regime of Sripat Tripathi,Veer Bahadur Singh and N D Tiwari in the state.
After serving as Congress Legislature Party leader in the state for almost 21 years,he was replaced by Pradeep Mathur in June 2012 following poor show of Congress in 2012 Assembly elections. He is also known to have his own group within the Congress in UP.
Meanwhile,his daughter Aradhana Mishra is likely to be the most probable candidate from his Rampur Khas seat,which would fall vacant once he is declared elected to Rajya Sabha. I am thankful to SP and other political parties,who did not field any other candidate giving regard to the fact that this seat was of Congress. I am touched with the emotions that the Assembly showed today and the way Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav,BSP and RLD leaders spoke about me Tiwari told The Indian Express.
Later he said that he is also thankful to Congress high-command including Congress President Sonia Gandhi for showing trust in him and selecting him as the party candidate for the vacant berth.