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Discontent brews within Congress party over choice of Rajya Sabha candidates

While many contenders expressed disappointment over their exclusion from the list, questions were also raised on why outsiders were nominated to the Upper House from states where seats are getting vacated

May 30, 2022 / 08:21 AM IST
A worker carries a roll of flags of India's main opposition Congress party at a flag manufacturing factory, ahead of the 2019 general elections, in Ahmedabad  (File Image: Reuters)

A worker carries a roll of flags of India's main opposition Congress party at a flag manufacturing factory, ahead of the 2019 general elections, in Ahmedabad (File Image: Reuters)


Voices of discontent emerged from within the Congress party after it announced the list of ten candidates for Rajya Sabha elections in the evening on May 29.

While many contenders expressed disappointment over their exclusion from the list, questions were also raised on why outsiders were nominated to the Upper House from states where seats are getting vacated.

Soon after the list of 10 Rajya Sabha candidates was released by the Congress party, prominent spokesperson Pawan Khera put out a cryptic tweet in Hindi saying, "perhaps, there were shortcomings in my efforts (for the party)".

“My work of 18 years also appeared less compared to Imran Bhai,” Nagma wrote quoting Khera’s tweet.

Khera, who hails from Rajasthan, received support from many leaders including Mahila Congress general secretary Nagma who seemed upset over poet-turned-politician Imran Pratapgarhi being nominated over her. Nagma said party president Sonia Gandhi had promised her a Rajya Sabha seat way back in 2003-04.

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The 10 candidates nominated for Rajya Sabha elections to be held for 57 seats across 15 states on June 10 included prominent Congress leaders like P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala and Rajeev Shukla.

Two leaders – former Union minister Mukul Wasik (Rajasthan) and Vivek Tankha (Madhya Pradesh) – were part of the dissenting group of 23 leaders who had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in 2020 seeking organizational changes. But Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, the two other leaders of the G-23 group, were not nominated in this list.

The disappointment comes close on the heels of three leaders – Sunil Jakhar, Hardik Patel and Kapil Sibal – quitting the Congress party within two weeks of its Udaipur brainstorming session. The session was held to discuss revival ahead of upcoming state polls and 2024 general elections.

Also read | Gujarat leader Hardik Patel resigns: Congress's loss is BJP's gain in poll year?

The party also faced criticism over choosing eight of the ten leaders who are not even natives of the seven states were Rajya Sabha vacancies have to be filled. In poll-bound Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, all five candidates are not from the states. Randeep Singh Surjewala, Mukul Wasnik and Pramod Tiwari have been nominated from Rajasthan. The three candidates do not belong to the state.

Rajasthan BJP chief Satish Poonia also took a jibe at the Congress party. "Congress's Chintan Shivir took place in Rajasthan. Now look at another achievement of this thinking. Observe the quota of local candidates ... without 'local' who will be 'vocal'..?" he asked in a tweet in Hindi.

Gujarat Congress's Jitendra Baghel asked "Would you tell us how many of these candidates are from OBC/SC/ST?"

Elections will be held on June 10 to fill 57 Rajya Sabha seats from 15 states falling vacant due to the retirement of members on different dates between June and August. The last date for filing nominations is May 31.
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