No word on where Anand Sharma will be nominated from
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni has been re-nominated by the Congress to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, while general-secretary Mohsina Kidwai, who reportedly turned down the governorship of Rajasthan, has been given a second term from Chhattisgarh.
However, at the time of going to the press, there was no word on where Union Minister of Commerce Anand Sharma would be nominated from.
E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan — Lok Sabha MP from Sivaganga (during 1991-2004), now represented by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram — has also been re-nominated to the Upper House for the second time from Tamil Nadu.
The Congress has run into rough weather in Karnataka. The party had hoped to get two candidates into the Rajya Sabha with the help of the H.D. Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) as it was short by a few votes for the second seat. The JD (S), which initially agreed to lend its support, had a last-minute change of heart, Congress sources said, leaving the party with only one sure seat. That seat has been given to the former Union Minister and Central Election Committee in-charge, Oscar Fernandes.
This has effectively put the sitting Rajya Sabha MP and party general-secretary, B.K. Hariprasad, out of the race. While there was speculation that he could be brought in from Madhya Pradesh, where the party has one seat, it appears that Mr. Hariprasad, who has been in the party for the last 36 years, does not wish to enter the Upper House from any other State.
He has been a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka twice and with the unwritten rule that Rajya Sabha MPs are not given more than three terms, he would like to remain in his home State. It would appear that the second seat now may go to an independent, who can “muster” support from both the Congress and the JD(S).
Both Congress Rajya Sabha candidates from Maharashtra, newspaper magnate Vijay Darda — who has been given a second term — and the former Youth Congress President, Avinash Pande, currently the AICC secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, are incidentally from Nagpur. Mr. Pande had unsuccessfully fought the Rajya Sabha elections from Maharashtra two years back against industrialist Rahul Bajaj, who contested as an independent candidate, backed jointly by the Nationalist Congress Party, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The fact that no one from the powerful Maratha community has been nominated has raised eyebrows in the party. Finally, industrialist Dheeraj Prasad Sahu made it once again from Jharkhand.
With the two seats from Maharashtra filled, Mr. Sharma will have to be brought in from Rajasthan, where it has two vacancies, or Madhya Pradesh, where it has one. The Haryana slot will be vacated only in August and Mr. Sharma's term expired on April 2 — he needs to be re-nominated within six months to keep his ministership.
Party sources said that with the second seat in Karnataka thrown out of gear, various permutations and combinations keeping in mind caste and regional balance are being worked out.
The Congress has yet to announce its two or perhaps three — if it can organise support for the third — candidates from Rajasthan, and one from Madhya Pradesh.