Internal rumblings, public questions over Congress Rajya Sabha picks

Internal rumblings, public questions over Congress Rajya Sabha picks
The Congress leadership is witnessing internal rumblings over the method and characters chosen for filling the 10 winnable Rajya Sabha seats from seven states. A Rajasthan MLA, Sanyam Lodha, a designated advisor of CM Ashok Gehlot, went public with his criticism of all the three Congress RS seats going to outsiders and sought a review. “The Congress party should tell what is the reason for not making any Congress leader/worker from Rajasthan a candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections,” Lodha tweeted. How a seasoned CM like Gehlot let all the three RS seats go to ‘outsiders’, as proposed by the high command, despite this being the last chance to accommodate the local leaders in the RS before next year’s assembly polls is also a matter shrouded in mystery.

Some in the party now suspect whether the CM allowed it to make the high command doubly obliged so that he gets an all the more free hand to run the remaining tenure of his government in Rajasthan. With former PM Manmohan Singh and AICC general secretary KC Venugopal already entering the RS last time from Rajasthan, the Gehlot government has provided space for “outsiders’ in five of the six Congress RS seats from Rajasthan.

In Chhattisgarh, both the Congress seats went to outsiders. Last time also, the lone RS seat had gone to another outsider –– KTS Tulsi. “When the states that make the Congress win and form governments such Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra are being made to dish out pre-poll RS seats for outsiders, including three unelectable from UP (Rajiv Shukla, Imran Pratpagari and Pramod Tiwari), which gave us just one Lok Sabha seat, two assembly seats and 2.5% votes, it looks like the premium is for the electorally non-performing state so much so that Pratapgarh district alone now has two RS candidates,” pointed out a state Congress leader.

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Even as change-seekers such as Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma stand bruised over the denial of tickets, many sworn “Gandhi family loyalists” too are now finding themselves in the aggrieved lot, making it a new mixed and growing basket, even as some insiders hinted that some ‘left-out loyalists’ such as Kumari Selja may be drafted for AICC postings.

With the latest Congress RS nominations, six of the eight members of the Congress TaskForce 2024 –– Mukul Wasnik, P Chidambaram, KC Venugopal, Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala and Jairam Ramesh –– who are supposed to lay out the party’s strategies for the upcoming electoral ground war, are now ‘Rajya Sabha wallas’.

Without taking any names and context, Congress Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari, one of the Congress change-seekers, told a news agency: “In my personal opinion, the Rajya Sabha has stopped carrying out the functions for which it was constituted. The Rajya Sabha has now become a parking lot. It needs to be examined whether or not the country needs the Rajya Sabha now”.

Film star Nagma, who has been working and campaigning for Congress for years, tweeted: “Soniaji our Congress president had personally committed to accommodating me in RS in 2003/04 when I joined the Congress party on her behest we weren’t in power then. Since then it’s been 18 yrs they didn’t find an opportunity. Mr Imran is accommodated in RS from Maharashtra. I ask am I less deserving.”

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