NEW DELHI: Lobbying and speculation are peaking in Congress ahead of vacancies in Rajya Sabha in the coming months starting in April, with some sitting MPs likely to miss out on renomination and several contenders, young turks as well as old guard, jostling to make a comeback to Parliament.
By broad in-house calculations, Congress can get 10 out of 11 berths it will vacate in April and one of two in June. A total of 56 MPs are retiring in the two months. Besides the seats it can win easily, Congress is looking at arrangements with ally Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Left in West Bengal and JD(S) in Karnataka to bag extra seats.
As insiders concede, a second successive poor performance in Lok Sabha elections has sent the number of Upper House aspirants soaring like never before. A surprise feature of the post-2019 scenario is that an unprecedented number of young Congress members are pushing for Rajya Sabha, more commonly the preserve of seniors.
The reason behind young leaders seeking the safe harbour of the Upper House is the 2019 defeat which has put them at the risk of being out of Parliament for a long stretch. At the same time veterans too are strongly staking a claim in the process of seat allocation.
Among those at the top of the list is Mallikarjun Kharge , leader of Congress in the last Lok Sabha, who lost in 2019. He is said to be pushing hard for a seat in his home state Karnataka. His entry will put at risk nomination of AICC office-bearer and research department chief Rajeev Gowda who completes his first term.
There is a possibility of Madhya Pradesh giving Congress two members in place of the retiring former CM Digvijaya Singh . While Singh is the frontrunner for one berth, Jyotiraditya Scindia is seen as a contender of a seat and is also in the running as the new state Congress chief. However, two other names are doing the rounds, of a former Lok Sabha member, known for her proximity to Rahul Gandhi and an AICC office-bearer.
Milind Deora is a probable both for the Rajya Sabha and Mumbai Congress presidency, sources said. Similarly, an AICC office-bearer is trying hard for either the Upper House or the party chief’s post in Maharashtra .
Sources said Congress is also on the cusp of a reshuffle in state units as well as in new appointments in the AICC, and these openings may be used to accommodate aspirations of party members.
Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, where Congress can accommodate extra candidates, would be under serious pressure from aspirants. A young former MP, close to the Gandhi scion, is said to be eager to enter from Rajasthan.
AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal did not contest his LS seat on the direction of the leadership. However, there is no vacancy coming up in Kerala and he may have his eyes on the next Kerala polls too. However, he is believed to be a contender too.