Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Lobbying for the six Rajya Sabha seats among Congress leaders has started amid speculation that the elections will be held some time next month.

Of the six vacancies, Congress is expected to have a smooth sailing in three and increase its tally by another with the support of its friendly parties. The TDP can get the remaining two. Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, N. Janardhana Reddy, V. Hanumantha Rao, Girish Sanghi, J.D. Seelam and P. Madhu (CPI-M) are retiring next month.

Strong contenders for the tickets are APCC president D. Srinivas and Union Minister Renuka Chowdary. Initially, former Minister Md. Ali Shabbir also eyed the ticket, but dropped out as there are two Minority community MPs in the Upper House.

Among the sitting members, V. Hanumantha Rao is lobbying for the third term while former Chief Minister N. Janardhana Reddy, wants a full six-year term after his short stint in the Rajya Sabha. Mr. Reddy's confidence stems from the fact that he has the assurance from the central leaders that he will accommodated suitably for having opted out of the Lok Sabha elections in favour of others.

Mr. Rao and Mr. Srinivas hope to cash in on the BC card and also impress upon the high command to recognise the contributions of Telangana leaders.

There is also speculation that one seat may be given to non-locals. It is believed that Mr. Jairam Ramesh has been asked to concentrate more on Karnataka party affairs.

In such a scenario, it may not be surprising if the high command asks Union Minister Anand Sharma to fight the elections.