With the term of four Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat ending in April this year, the Congress has begun discussing on who the party would nominate for the Upper House. The four Rajya Sabha MPs from Gujarat whose term expires on April 2 this year are Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Parsottambhai Rupala and Mansukh Mandaviya, besides Shankarbhai Vegad — all from the BJP.
The Congress now has 77 members in Assembly following the recently conclude state polls. With two MLAs of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) —Chhotubhai Vasava and his son Mahesh Vasava — being its political allies and an Independent MLA Bhupendrasinh Khant from the Panchmahals having announced his support for the Congress, the party effectively has the support of 80 MLAs in a House of 182.
According to political leaders, the Congress with the support of 80 MLAs can win two Rajya Sabha seats. According to sources in the Congress, the party is contemplating to nominate state party president Bharatsinh Solanki and central party leader Janardan Dwivedi. Dwivedi is currently a member of Rajya Sabha from Delhi, and his term expires on January 27.
With the Congress having no MLAs in the Delhi Assembly, Dwivedi could not be renominated from the state. The three Rajya Sabha members from Delhi whose term expired this month, necessitating the elections to fill the three seats, were all from the Congress — Dwivedi, Dr Karan Singh and Parvez Hashmi. The AAP won all the three seats without any contest on January 9 this year.
A senior Congress leader said that as the high command wants Dwivedi’s presence in the Rajya Sabha, it has been decided to send him to the Upper House from Gujarat. On the other hand, sources in the party confirmed that Solanki’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha is almost final. A senior party leader said that Solanki has not been keeping well and therefore his current responsibilities of the state party chief could be given to someone else. Solanki, however, refused to comment on his possible nomination.
At present, there are only two Rajya Sabha members of Congress from Gujarat — Ahmed Patel and Madhusudan Mistry — out of the total of 11 RS members from the state. With the possible election of two more, the Congress’s strength in the Upper House from Gujarat would rise to four.