Bengaluru: Senior Congress leaders are likely to insist on fielding former Knowledge Commission chairman, Sam Pitroda or party veteran Janardhan Diwedi from Karnataka for one of the three seats from the state which the party is aiming to win in the forthcoming Rajya Sabha polls on March 23.
However, Chief Minister, Siddarmaiah was quick to dismiss this soon after his meeting with Congress president, Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi stating that the party state unit has recommended names from the state itself.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader on the condition of anonymity disclosed that Mr Gandhi is learnt to have insisted the party state unit consider the name of Mr Sam Pitroda for fielding in one of the three seats.
The source explained that a long-time associate of the Nehru-Gandhi family, Pitroda had ushered in the telecom revolution in India working closely with then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the late 1980s. And in his home state, Gujarat, he worked closely with Rahul Gandhi to help the Congress in the Assembly polls. The source added that Mr Gandhi had subtly placed his demand to field Mr Pitroda from one of the seats.
The source said that Mr Pitroda's name has cropped up in the discussions only to strengthen the Congress talent pool in the Rajya Sabha, where the party's strength will decline from the present tally of 58 seats.
According to the source, the state unit has broadly arrived at a consensus on five leaders during the preliminary round of discussions and based on this, All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha president, Shamanoor Shivashankarappa or former minister Rani Satish may be fielded for the first seat while Saleem Ahmed or Urban Development minister, R. Roshan Baig may get the the second seat and businessman and a close aide of the CM, Channa Reddy may bag the third seat which will however depend on rebel MLAs supporting him.
However, this has not deterred four-time Rajya Sabha MP, K. Rehman Khan from lobbying hard to secure a fifth term in a row as Rajya Sabha MP with leaders in New Delhi. "Mr Khan met CM Siddaramiah twice in the day which proves how hard he has been lobbying for the fifth term. He has been a veteran in New Delhi and he can pull off surprises any time as there is still one more week left to finalise the choices though the state unit is batting for a younger Muslim face," the source explained while heaping praise on Mr Khan's connections in political circles in New Delhi.
Sankeshwar, Rao BJP's frontrunners for poll
With elections to four Rajya Sabha seats scheduled for April 24, there is heavy lobbying for the tickets in both the Congress and the BJP in the state. Going by their present strength in the state Assembly, the ruling Congress can comfortably win three seats and the BJP one.
Incumbent independent MP, Rajiv Chandrashekar, who is backed by the BJP, is already lobbying hard for a chance at winning a second term to the Rajya Sabha on its ticket. The recent core committee meeting of the state BJP left it to its central leadership to take a call on the candidate for the Rajya Sabha poll and its parliamentary board is expected to meet within a week to take a decision.
Mr. Chandrashekar may not find it easy to get a BJP ticket as netizens have started a campaign on social media urging the party to opt for a local candidate instead of an outsider. Software professionals and pro- Kannada activists are campaigning on Facebook and Whatsapp groups, urging the Congress too to select local candidates for the poll.
Currently, the names of media baron, Vijay Sankeshwar and BJP leader in charge of its affairs in Karnataka, Muralidhar Rao's are doing the rounds as BJP candidates. Most party legislators and state BJP chief, B S Yeddyurappa are reportedly backing Mr. Sankeshwar. But even party Central leaders are said to be clueless about the choice PM Modi and party national president, Amit Shah are likely to make.