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Rajya Sabha elections first test for Udaipur Declaration  

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi with senior party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, P. Chidambaram, Bhupinder Hooda and others during submission of reports by convenors of the coordination panels, in Udaipur.

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi with senior party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, P. Chidambaram, Bhupinder Hooda and others during submission of reports by convenors of the coordination panels, in Udaipur. | Photo Credit: PTI

The upcoming Rajya Sabha elections could be the first test of implementing Congress’ Udaipur Declaration in which the party adopted the “50 under 50” formula, that is keeping half the positions for those who are under 50 years of age.

The party’s choice of nominees could also determine the next move by leaders of G-23, the ginger group that is pushing for internal reforms. G-23 leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma are among the contenders but the party has limited number of berths and will have to make some tough choices.

A senior leader, however, said the 50 under 50 rule will mainly apply to party posts now and from the 2024 Lok Sabha election in candidate selection as well.

The way the numbers stack up, the Congress will get three seats from Rajasthan, two from Chhattisgarh and one each from Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana in the Rajya Sabha polls.

Among the existing allies, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has already left one seat for the Congress from its quota and in States like Bihar and Jharkhand, the Congress will have to depend upon the magnanimity of its allies, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), to secure one seat each from these States. The Congress currently has 29 members in the Upper House.

In her meeting with G-23 leaders, Congress president Sonia Gandhi is said to have assured them of adequate representation in the party as well as Parliament but did express her concern about limited opportunities.

Mr. Azad is among 11 members in the Upper House since its inception to have had five terms. Entering the Rajya Sabha in 1990, he has served five continuous terms, barring a three-year gap between April 2006 to February 2009.

Mr. Sharma had four terms beginning from April 1984, but his terms were not contiguous. After the first term from 1984 to 1990, he returned to the Upper House only in 2004 and was in the House till his recent retirement in April this year.

It’s tricky in States like Haryana where there is a lone seat. Kumari Selja, who recently vacated the post of State unit chief in favour of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s camp, expects to be accommodated in the Upper House. But Mr. Hooda, who is a member of the G-23, could chose either Mr. Sharma or Mr. Azad, given his proximity to them.

Head of Communication, Randeep Surjewala, too expects to be moved out of his present profile and is being talked about for a Rajya Sabha berth.

In Chhattisgarh, the State unit has conveyed to the Centre that the seat vacated by OBC MP Chayya Verma should be filled by another OBC candidate. Here too there is a long list of contenders including the State-in-charge P.L. Punia.

In Rajasthan, the Congress has 108 MLAs and can, on their own steam, elect two MPs. For the third additional seat, it needs support of the allies and independent legislators. Among those in the race here are Bhanwar Jeetender Singh and many others from the central leadership.

Insisting that the 50 under 50 rule is focused on party positions and not the Rajya Sabha polls, the senior leader quoted above asserted that the Block Congress Committees (BCCs) and District Congress Committees (DCCs) will certainly implement the rule but it may be a more difficult exercise for the Pradesh Congress Committee and the Congress Working Committee. He added that recently appointed PCC chiefs in Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand are all below 50 years of age.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 7:02:26 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rajya-sabha-elections-first-test-for-udaipur-declaration/article65430919.ece