New Delhi: Trouble is far from over for the Congress Party’s Rajya Sabha nominees. In fact, in some cases, it is only growing. After facing internal discontent over its list of candidates, the party will now actually have to contest elections in three states -- Rajasthan, Haryana and Maharashtra – for its nominees to enter the Upper House of Parliament.
In Rajasthan, where the party is in power, it was meant to be a cakewalk for the three “outsider” candidates -- Randeep Surjewala, Pramod Tiwari and Mukul Wasnik. However, the entry into the fray by media baron Subhash Chandra, who filed his nomination papers on the last day with the support of the BJP, has rattled the party. Some Congress MLAs were openly upset about the fact that “outsiders” were given tickets, and with Assembly polls not too far away, no one from the state unit was even considered for a Rajya Sabha berth. If cross-voting happens, it may put the candidature of at least one of the three in jeopardy, which is likely to be Mr Pramod Tewari.
In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, each candidate needs 41 votes to win. The Congress has 108 MLAs and the BJP has 71 votes. They have 30 surplus votes, but to win a second seat, they need another 11 votes. To win a third seat, the Congress needs 15 more votes. Smaller parties and Independents will therefore play a critical role to determine who wins the seat. There are 13 Independents, two Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) members, two of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) and two CPI(M) MLAs.
In Haryana, meanwhile, the entry of Kartikeya Sharma, son of former Congress leader Vinod Sharma, has queered the pitch for Congress candidate Ajay Maken. To win a Rajya Sabha seat in the state, a candidate needs to get at least 30 votes, and the Congress has 31. But no one is counting on Kuldeep Bishnoi, who has been sulking for some time, especially with Bhupinder Singh Hooda being given full control of the party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Also, in the last Rajya Sabha election, the official Congress candidate, R.K. Anand, lost because of significant cross-voting taking place.
In Maharashtra too, the imposition of Imran Pratapgarhi has irked local leaders. Maharashtra Congress leader Ashish Deshmukh on Tuesday wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi announcing his resignation as general secretary of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, calling it an injustice towards Congress workers. The BJP has put up an extra candidate to ensure that an election takes place. If there is cross- voting, the official Congress candidate could be in trouble.
The Congress has been severely criticised for announcing these names as its candidates, and if the party’s official candidates are defeated, it will be a huge embarrassment for the party high command....