In all, 9 candidates, including three official nominees of the Congress, two of the TDP, and one of the TRS, file their papers

The Congress found itself in a spot when two powerful party rebels filed their nominations papers for the Rajya Sabha elections on Tuesday.

In all, nine candidates, including three official nominees of the ruling Congress, two of the TDP, and one of the TRS filed their papers before the Returning Officer S. Raja Sadaram.

The filing of nominations was marked by high drama and suspense as one of the rebels submitted his papers at the last minute, suddenly electrifying the situation.

The first candidate to file was K. Keshava Rao of the TRS, who was accompanied by MLAs of his own party and the CPI whose central leadership formally decided to back him. The chances of Dr. Rao winning the election with the support of the Congress MLAs from Telangana appear bright and hints at possible precursor to the two parties coming together.

As expected K.V.V. Satyanaryana Raju, alias Chaitanya Raju, filed his papers, though surprisingly in the company of former Minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy, who was himself tipped to be a candidate, and other Congress MLAs.

He was followed by the K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao, T. Subbarami Reddy and M. A. Khan, all official nominees of the ruling party. They filed their papers without much fanfare in the presence of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana and Deputy Chief Minister C. Damodar Raj Narasimha who arrived separately. Garikapati Ramamohan Rao and Thota Seetaramalakshmi filed their papers on behalf of the TDP.

These developments gave an impression that only one rebel candidate could be in fray but, suddenly, Congress MLA Adala Prabhakar Reddy trooped into the Returning officer’s chambers with some rebel legislators.

The Congress was caught off guard when Mr. Chaitanya Raju filed a second set of papers minutes before the deadline for nominations ended. J. Bhaskar from the Shramajeevi party too filed his papers, which was supported by TDP MLA M. Hanumantha Rao.

It became clear in the morning itself that Congress rebels were determined to leverage the united AP slogan in the Rajya Sabha polls. A strategy session was held between Mr. Chaitanya Raju, Mr. Diwakar Reddy and Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao on who should file their nomination. It was decided that Mr. Raju, an MLC, would file his papers with Mr. Reddy’s.

What should cause serious concern to the Congress leaders, including AICC secretaries - R. C. Khuntia and Tirunavakarasu – who are here, is that as many as 30 party MLAs proposed the candidature of the rebels.

The nomination papers will be scrutinised on Wednesday while the last day for withdrawal of nominations in January 31.

Elections will be held on February 7.