New Delhi: Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, expelled by his party CPI(M), could well be in the Rajya Sabha. Sources disclosed a section in the Congress is keen to get Mr Chatterjee into the Upper House. And Mr Chatterjee, it is learnt, is not against the proposed move.
By the end of this month, seven presidential nominees are scheduled to retire. This include, yesteryears dream girl Hema Malini, actor and wrestler Dara Singh, economist Bimal Jalan, journalist Chandan Mitra, lawyer Ram Jethmalani, former Isro chief Dr Kasturirangan and Narayan Singh Parmar. Mr Chatterjee could be move into one of the berth falling vacant.
Sources disclosed that the earlier proposal of the Congress to offer him a governor’s berth was politely turned down by Mr Chatterjee. He had hinted that being a former Lok Sabha Speaker, it would not be possible for him to accept the post of a governor.
It can be mentioned that Mr Chatterjee was expelled after he refused to toe the party line and refused to step down from the Speaker’s post, after the CPI(M) withdrew support from the UPA on the issue of Indo-US nuclear deal.
Despite a major hue and cry from West Bengal, the CPI(M) general secretary, Mr Prakash Karat, refused to budge and went ahead with his decision to expel Mr Chatterjee. The impact of the decision had an adverse impact on the party in West Bengal during the general elections. However, unfazed by the electoral rout, Mr Karat went on justifying his decision and instead blamed it all on the "failures" of the CPI(M) led Left Front government in the state.
Some of the Bollywood names being considered for the posts include poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, yesteryears superstar Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore and Raza Murad. However, a senior Congress leader indicated that "all names are being looked into and nothing has yet been finalised."
There are also a number of senior journalists from West Bengal and Delhi actively lobbying for Rajya Sabha berths.