Congress leaders P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Vivek Tankha and Imran Pratapgarhi filed their nomination papers on Monday for the June 10 election to Rajya Sabha, amid voices of discontent emerging from within the party over the choice of candidates.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had on Sunday night cleared the names of 10 party leaders including Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala and Mukul Wasnik.
Soon after the announcement of the candidates, actress-turned-politician Nagma Morarji and the party’s national spokesperson Pawan Khera made clear their disappointment over not being nominated.
Nagma also raised questions over the candidature of minority cell head Imran Pratapgarhi while Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam said that suppression’ of talent is a "suicidal step” for the party.
Sanyam Lodha, who is also an adviser to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, said the Congress should re-reconsider its decision to field candidates to the Rajya Sabha from outside the state.
"Shayad meri tapasya mein kuch kami reh gayi (Maybe my penance fell short),” Khera tweeted.
Responding to it, Nagma said, "My 18 years of penance fell short before Imran bhai (Imran Pratapgarhi, who has been fielded from Maharashtra)."
"Sonia Ji our Congress president had personally committed to accommodating me in RS in 2003/04 when I joined Congress party on her behest we weren’t in power then. Since then it’s been 18 years (but) they didn’t find an opportunity, Mr Imran is accommodated in RS from Maha. I ask am I less deserving,” she tweeted.
However, both Khera and Naga later congratulated the nominees.
Imran Pratapraghi, when asked about his candidature said, "There is no opposition to my candidature and the entire party stands united. The entire country comes within Maharashtra and there is no question of outsider or insider.”
"There is no question of any kind of opposition to the decision of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and the entire party stands together behind her decision. We will win the Rajya Sabha election.”
When asked about Nagma’s criticism, he said, "Have you seen another tweet by her congratulating everyone who has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Please see that tweet, it is more beautiful.”
Responding to Nagma Morarji’s tweet, Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam said that the penance of Salman Khurshid, Tariq Anwar and Ghulam Nabi Azad was of over 40 years, but they too were "martyred".
"’Suppression’ of talent is a ’suicidal step’ for the party,” he said in another tweet in Hindi.
Shortly after the Congress announced its candidates on Sunday night, Lodha had tweeted, "The Congress party should explain why no Congress leader/worker from Rajasthan is nominated for the Rajya Sabha elections,” with the hashtag 'Congress Sankalp'.
He cautioned the Congress’ top brass that the party would suffer a "huge blow” in the assembly elections next year if it failed to accommodate leaders from Rajasthan in the Upper House.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole, however, said that every worker "accepts the decision of our leader Sonia Gandhi”.
"Congress is a democratic party and anyone can feel that he is more deserving, but everyone accepts the decision of the high command and Imran Pratapgarhi will be elected as the party’s Rajya Sabha nominee from Maharashtra,” he said.
Earlier all the leaders nominated to Rajya Sabha thanked the party leadership for reposing faith in them.
"Grateful for the support and good wishes of the Congress President, the Congress leadership, millions of Congress members, colleagues and friends,” Chidambaram said in a tweet.
Speaking to reporters after filing his nomination in Chennai, the senior leader thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and other allies of the DMK-Congress combine, including the Left parties.
The former union minister, however, declined to comment on voices of discontent within his party over the choice of candidates for the June 10 Rajya Sabha biennial polls.
Vivek Tankha, a leader of the G23 dissident group that had raised questions on the Congress leadership and sought the party’s overhaul, said, "Today while remembering ancestors, took the first step towards the second beginning in the country’s highest house of Parliament (have filed nomination)."
"I am sorry if I have hurt anyone due to my words or actions during this period so far. My attempt has always been to wipe tears and not give pain to anyone through my work.”
In another tweet, he said in 32 years of association with Kamal Nath, he has always been grateful to him for his unstinted support.
Flanked by Nath and Leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Govind Singh, the 65-year-old Supreme Court lawyer presented his nomination papers to the returning officer in Bhopal.
Other leaders also thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi while filing their nomination papers for the faith reposed in them.
Ranjeet Ranjan said, "I’m extremely humbled and grateful to my party, to madam Sonia Ji and Rahul Ji for nominating me for Rajya Sabha”.
Union minister Jairam Ramesh and Mansoor Ali Khan filed their nomination papers from Karnataka.
They were accompanied to the Karnataka Assembly Secretariat by former chief minister Siddaramaiah, senior Congress leader M Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress state president D K Shivakumar.
The opposition party is expected to win at least one seat given its strength in the assembly, but it has also fielded another candidate, Mansoor Ali Khan.