Uttarakhand Congress averse to outsider being fielded for Rajya Sabha

Amid intense lobbying in Congress for the only vacant Rajya Sabha seat from Uttarakhand, majority of party leaders in the state appear averse to the idea of an "outsider" being nominated.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 06, 2014, 13:28 PM IST

Dehradun: Amid intense lobbying in Congress for the only vacant Rajya Sabha seat from Uttarakhand, majority of party leaders in the state appear averse to the idea of an "outsider" being nominated.

A large section of party leaders opposed the idea of someone from outside the state being given a Rajya Sabha ticket at a meeting chaired by AICC general secretary incharge of the state Ambika Sonia when she was here recently to gauge the mood in the party ahead of the November 20 Upper House polls, a party functionary privy to the deliberations told a news agency.

"Party leaders here are of the view that someone from the state should be given a chance so that he can firmly raise state-specific issues in the Upper House. A leader from outside cannot be expected to do that."

"Having a strong voice in the Rajya Sabha from the state becomes more important for the party given the fact that opposition BJP holds all five Lok Sabha seats from Uttarakhand," the senior party leader who attended the meeting with Soni said requesting anonymity.

"However, we are all ready to accept whatever decision is taken in this regard by the high command whose prerogative it is to decide a candidate for the Rajya Sabha," he added.

Hectic lobbying is on within the Congress for the lone Rajya Sabha seat which fell vacant when BJP's Bhagat Singh Koshiyari was elected to the Lok Sabha.

Congress leaders from outside the state in the race include Shivraj Patil, Rajiv Shukla and Raj Babbar, according to party sources. Prominent among those vying for the seat from within the state are former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and PCC chief Kishore Upadhyay considered close to Bahuguna's successor Harish Rawat.

Bahuguna who had to step down as CM to make way for Harish Rawat wants a ticket for himself whereas his successor wants it for one of his team members.

Both of them have made several trips to Delhi over the past week to convince the central leadership on the issue.

While Congress leaders here feel that Bahuguna's seniority as well as experience qualify him as a deserving nominee, the only factor which may go against him is that he is the sitting MLA from Sitarganj Assembly seat.

Choosing him as a candidate for the Upper House will imply a bypoll to the Assembly constituency. Congress insiders said the party does not think it stands a fair chance to retain the seat in the bypoll as Bahuguna had come in for much criticism while he was chief minister for the manner in which he had handled the aftermath of the natural disaster last year.

It feels the discontent among people of the constituency against Bahuguna may cause the party to lose the seat and reduce its tally of 35 seats in the 70-member state Assembly to 34.

At the same time, the probables from outside the state have an edge over the regional satraps eying the seat when it comes to their lobbying power and proximity to the central leadership.

However, Congress party sources in Delhi have indicated that the party is unlikely to field an outsider.

November 10 is the last date for filing of nominations.