Ahead of Rajya Sabha elections, infighting breaks out in Congress

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 17, 2020

Congress president Sonia Gandhi

Elections are to be held for 70 seats, the GoP has edge in a dozen from six States where it is in power

Intense infighting has started within the Congress over the limited number of Rajya Sabha seats available from the States ruled by the party or its allies. Elections will have to be held for about 70 seats for the Upper House this year and the Congress has an edge in less than a dozen from about six States where it is in power.

While Congress insiders claim that the decision will be taken by party president Sonia Gandhi as and when the process for the election starts, a number of leaders have started positioning themselves. Most of the elections will take place between April and June.

For example, in Maharashtra, where the party is in power in alliance with the Shiv Sena and the NCP, seven vacancies will open up this year. The statements of Milind Deora, former minister in Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet and a former president of the party’s Mumbai unit, is seen positioning himself for the seat.

Out of the seven seats, the ruling alliance can win about five and the Congress expects at least one seat. Senior Congressman from the State Husain Dalwai’s term comes to an end this year. Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, three seats will be up for grabs. Two of these are to go to the Congress and an open tussle has started among leaders. Former Chief Minister and senior leader Digvijaya Singh is one MP who is retiring this year. Given the organisational equations at present, the High Command will send him again to give a free hand to State Chief Minister Kamal Nath.

Young leader Jyotiraditya Scindia is seen as a claimant for the second seat. But party leaders have openly demanded that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should be sent to the Rajya Sabha from the State.

Senior Congress leader Sajjan Singh Verma said in a tweet, “Indira Gandhi was committed for the upliftment of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and women. Priyanka is following her footprint. Just as Indira-ji brought @OfficeOfKNath (Kamal Nath) to Madhya Pradesh, it is time to bring @priyankagandhi-ji (Priyanka Gandhi) to Rajya Sabha from the state.”

Former state Congress president Arun Yadav also supported this demand. “It is time that Rahul Gandhiji once again is handed over the party’s command. It will also be appropriate that Priyanka Gandhiji be given the opportunity to represent the Rajya Sabha from M.P. to give an edge to the ground struggle against the fascist ideology,” he said.

There are three vacancies from Rajasthan and the party will get at least two seats. Intense lobbying has started for both the seats.

In Chhattisgarh too, there are two vacancies, including that of nonagenarian AICC general secretary Motilal Vora. The party is likely to send Vora back to the Upper House.

Advantage, BJP

The BJP, which has 82 members at the moment in the House, will improve its position by the end of this year in the Rajya Sabha.

The Narendra Modi Government already enjoys a “working majority” in the Rajya Sabha thanks to the issue-based support of fence-sitters such as the BJD, the TRS and the YSRCP.

The NDA’s position will get strengthened as elections will be held for the 70 seats, the bulk of which are from BJP-ruled UP.

Published on February 17, 2020

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