Union Ministers Ambika Soni, Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh look all set to return to the Rajya Sabha, Congress sources told The Hindu.
But while Ms. Soni, whose current tenure ends on July 4, is to be nominated from Punjab, and Mr. Ramesh, whose terms ends on June 21, from Andhra Pradesh, there is still no clarity on where Mr. Sharma, whose term had ended on April 2, will be re-nominated from. The party is yet to decide whether to bring him back from Haryana, Rajasthan or Maharashtra.
Earlier in the year, Union Ministers A.K. Antony and M.S. Gill, whose tenures ended in April, were re-nominated.
Gandhi family loyalist Satish Sharma, who represents Uttarakhand in the Rajya Sabha, will get a fresh lease in the Upper House from Uttar Pradesh when his current term ends on July 4. Since the Congress has only 21 votes in the State instead of the 34 it requires, it has entered into an understanding with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh, party sources told The Hindu. This arrangement could help the Congress in the Lok Sabha in future, when it has tricky legislation to get through, as the RLD has five MPs in the Lok Sabha, but on the flipside the RLD could expect to enter the Union Ministry in return.
It is learnt that the former Union Minister of State for Personnel, Suresh Pachauri, who was packed off to Madhya Pradesh as the party's State chief, may be making a comeback. There is a strong possibility of him being nominated from Madhya Pradesh and if that happens, party sources say, he could be inducted into the government.
In Karnataka, the picture has become clearer after Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, decided to throw his weight behind the Congress — the two seats here will go in all probability to senior party functionaries Oscar Fernandes and B.K. Hariprasad.
For the four Andhra Pradesh seats, apart from Mr. Ramesh, J.D. Seelam, party sources say, is sure to be in. For the two remaining seats, the names of V. Hanumantha Rao, a sitting Rajya Sabha MP, and the former Minister, Renuka Chowdhury, have been doing the rounds.
In Rajasthan, which should return three and perhaps four, with some help, Rajya Sabha MPs Narendra Budania, a jat leader who got just a one-year term, is likely to be re-nominated, party sources said. A second candidate is likely to be a Muslim, while for the third, the name of Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bhainsla's daughter is being taken. Party sources are citing several reasons for this — shoring up Gujjar support, given the Gujjar-Meena face-off in the State as well as to “balance” Union Minister of State for Communications Sachin Pilot's clout in the party — he is a Gujjar. Those opposed to the nomination point out that Colonel Bhainsla fought the last Lok Sabha elections on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket.
In Maharashtra, there are two seats. One could go to sitting Rajya Sabha MP and newspaper owner, Vijay Darda, who has been lobbying hard for a second term. In Jharkhand, industrialist Dhiraj Prasad Sahu is trying hard for a second term. In Haryana, jat leader Birendra Singh is being considered for the lone seat.
However, two party loyalists, former Union Minister Mohsina Kidwai, who represents Chhattisgarh in the Upper House, and senior party functionary R.K. Dhawan, who represents Bihar, may not be back, added party sources.