Updated: May 30, 2022 6:36:34 pm
The Congress high command had its way on the selection of the party’s candidates for the biennial elections to Rajya Sabha as it fielded outsiders but staunch Gandhi family loyalists from four states, including party-ruled Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where Assembly elections are due next year, and denied berths to G 23 leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma.
After days of intense deliberations and hectic lobbying, the party tonight announced its 10 candidates from seven states, keeping the suspense on its nominee from Jharkhand where ally JMM is said to have agreed to back a Congress candidate after some persuasion by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
There was speculation that the party may field Azad from Jharkhand as he is said to be acceptable to the JMM. But Azad told The Indian Express that he is not going to contest from Jharkhand. “I am not there. No regrets. May be the other people who have been selected are more competent,” he said.
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With a large number of leaders vying for the limited 10 slots that the grand old party could win, there was intense pressure on the high command and the selection of the 10 candidates will leave many dejected. It is to be seen how Azad and Sharma would react in the coming days.
The party has renominated only three MPs — P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh and Vivek Tankha. In all, the party has fielded seven outsiders from four states, ignoring regional sentiments.
From Rajasthan, the party has fielded AICC general secretaries Randeep Singh Surjewala and Mukul Wasnik and Uttar Pradesh leader and CWC member Pramod Tiwari. In Chhattisgarh too, it has fielded outsiders — AICC in-charge of Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla and Bihar leader Ranjeet Ranjan. Although a signatory to the G23 letter, Wasnik is now closer to the Gandhis than to the reformist group.
The high command did not pay heed to the demands of the two state units to field local leaders in view of elections next year end. Interestingly, the party has fielded AICC general secretary Ajay Maken from Haryana. It was said that Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the CLP leader, had rooted for his fellow G 23 leader Anand Sharma.
The decision to field UP politician and AICC minority department head Imran Pratapgarhi from Maharashtra was surprising. It is said that AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra threw her weight behind Pratapgarhi, Shukla and Tiwari — all three from Uttar Pradesh, the state she is in-charge of.
There were no surprises as far as the candidates from Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are concerned. As expected, P Chidambaram is the nominee from Tamil Nadu. The DMK has already announced its decision to back the Congress candidate. Jairam Ramesh is renominated from Karnataka and Vivek Tankha is renominated from Madhya Pradesh.
Tankha, a signatory to the letter that 23 senior leaders had written to Gandhi in August 2020, has the support of both PCC president Kamal Nath and veteran leader Digvijaya Singh.
Those whose names were talked about but could not make it are AICC Data Analytics department head Praveen Chakravarty, former Haryana Congress president Kumari Selja, AICC general secretaries Jitendra Singh and Avinash Pandey. AICC spokesperson Pawan Khera, who was one of the hopefuls, put out a cryptic tweet saying “shayad meri tapasya mai kuchh kami rah gayi (perhaps there was some deficiency in my penance)”.
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