Congress president Sonia Gandhi has nominated former MP and Dalit leader Panna Lal Punia as the party candidate for the Rajya Sabha biennial polls from Uttar Pradesh.
A former IAS officer, Punia was a member of the last Lok Sabha from UP’s Barabanki constituency. He was also chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
The Congress with 28 members in the assembly can win one seat if the SP transfers its surplus votes to the party nominee. Names of several Congress leaders, including former Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Beni Prasad Verma, were doing rounds for the lone seat the party can win from UP.
A total of 10 seats are to be filled in the current round of polls from UP due to an impending retirement of people, including Amar Singh and Ram Gopal Yadav of the SP and Kusum Rai of the BJP. The ruling SP is in a position to get six of its candidates elected on the basis of its strength in assembly. The BSP can get two seats and the BJP one. A candidate needs 38 first-preference votes for getting elected.
With the Congress fielding its nominee, the chances of RLD chief Ajit Singh making it to the Upper House have receded. Singh’s problem is that RLD, with just eight MLAs, is not in a position to mobilise requisite support from other parties.