Sensing LS defeat, Congress leaders line up for RS seats
Political leaders feel that the precedent of senior Congress leaders taking the Rajya Sabha route to enter Parliament shows that they had given up before the BJP’s PM candidate, in his typical ‘no compromise attitude,’ had claimed every LS seats was important. Case in point is President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit, who managed to retain the Jangipur LS seat by a tiny margin of just 2,536 votes, which is the lowest victory margin in this Congress bastion. In 2009, Pranab Mukherjee had won the seat by 1,28,149 votes. However, his son won because Trinamool Congress did not field its candidate against him. On the other hand, Modi has already decided to field strong candidates, indicating a clean break from earlier political trends of mutual understanding among the parties by fielding weak candidates against big names in the rival camp. Obviously, this has sent off shock waves through Congress corridors.
Consequently, prominent leaders such as NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Congress Motilal Vora, Digvijaya Singh, Murli Deora and Kumari Selja, have decided to take the backchannel entry into the Rajya Sabha. Other Congress candidates who have already taken the RS route include Hussain Dalwai, Madhusudan Mistry, Abdul Salam, sitting MP Wansuk Syiem and Viplov Thakur.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who ended his 10-year self-proclaimed exile from electoral politics after losing in Madhya Pradesh, and Mistry’s entry in to the upper house indicate that they backed out from contesting in their Lok Sabha constituencies in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat respectively. In both cases, ‘organisational work’ ahead of the general election was cited as the reason. Interestingly, Selja’s entry into the upper house has ruled out all speculation that former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit could be brought to Rajya Sabha from Haryana.
This phenomenon of leaders making a beeline to Rajya Sabha was criticised by AICC Secretary Sajjan Singh Verma who had questioned the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s decision to nominate senior party leaders to the upper house of Parliament instead of making them fight the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
A senior BJP spokesperson said, ‘Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh (Baghpat) and parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath (Chhindwara) will be defeated in the general election. There are high chances that our party will get majority of Jat vote in western UP forcing Ajit in a difficult situation.’ On Nath, he said, ‘In 2009 general election, he emerged as a winner by securing 121,220 votes. As per the 2013 assembly elections, the BJP is ahead by 120,859 votes. This is lower than Nath’s winning margin in 2009 but by only 361 votes. It is difficult for him to make it now.’ Speculations are rife that Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram might lose Chandni Chowk and Sivaganga seat in Tamil Nadu respectively.