The Congress contingent from Andhra Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha will remain virtually the same. Party president Sonia Gandhi late Thursday evening approved the names of four of the five sitting members from the State, all of whom are scheduled to retire on June 21.

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, N. Janardhana Reddy, V. Hanumantha Rao, and Jesudasu Seelam have been re-nominated, while industrialist Girish Kumar Sanghi has been dropped.

Given that the Congress now has votes sufficient only for four rather than five candidates, there was some uncertainty over the re-nominations. The names of Mr. Ramesh and Mr. Seelam — a first term Dalit Rajya Sabha MP who had retired from the IAS to join politics — were cleared first, followed by that of Mr. Rao, a former Andhra Pradesh Minister, who has served two terms in the Upper House.

There were some differences over whether Mr. Reddy should be nominated again. Unlike the others who have served a full six-year term, he was inducted only a year ago.

Party sources say he faced stiff competition from the former Union Minister, Renuka Chowdhury, who failed to get re-elected to the Lok Sabha in last year's general elections, and Mr. Sanghi.

In the end, it was Mr. Reddy who made the grade, party sources said, because with Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, MP, defying leadership's directive to discontinue his tour of the State, the Congress cannot afford to send a wrong signal to the powerful Reddy community, whose members are its mainstay in Andhra Pradesh.

By contrast, Ms. Chowdhury belongs to the Kamma community which backs the rival Telugu Desam Party, while Mr. Sanghi is a Bania.