Resentment in Maha Congress over Anand Sharma's RS nomination



Mumbai: Resentment is brewing in the Maharashtra unit of the Congress amid reports that the party's central leadership is planning to field Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma from the state for next month's Rajya Sabha elections.

Though no top leader or party functionary has gone on record to oppose such a move, sources in the Congress on condition of anonymity said the rank and file disfavour RS nomination to Sharma from the state.

"They (the outsiders) neither respect the partymen from the state nor assimilate themselves with the local sentiments," a party official told a news agency stating that experience of having outsiders as MPs from the state has not been good.

"If Sharma cannot be elected from Himachal Pradesh, he can be moved to neighbouring Haryana or Rajasthan. Why here? Should Maharashtra be turned into a dumping ground for those who cannot get elected from their home states?" he said.

Sources said parties like Shiv Sena and MNS, who have always sought to make political mileage out of the issue of Marathi pride, would try to exploint the situation in the upcoming elections to the Legislative Council.

Citing the example of MoS for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh whose Rajya Sabha nomination has been opposed in Andhra Pradesh, the state which he represents, sources said such resentment stems from the fact that MPs from outside do not keep in touch the party units in states which send them to the Rajya Sabha.

Sources said sentiments against fielding "outsiders" could have a bearing on the outcome of the biennial elections to the Legislative Council, also scheduled next month.

While elections to six RS seats are scheduled for June 17, ten seats of the council go to poll on June 10.

The last day for filing nominations for Rajya Sabha is June seven, three days ahead of the polling for Council seats.

The Rajya Sabha elections are held through an open ballot system and Council polls by secret ballot.

Sources apprehend that resentment in the event of Sharma being fielded could trigger cross voting by party MLAs which had resulted in the defeat of the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's close confidante Sudhakar Gangane two years ago.

Anand Sharma's RS term expired in April and Congress does not have the required strength to get him elected from his home state Himachal Pradesh. He can retain his place in the union government for six months from the expiry of his term without getting elected to any house of Parliament.

AICC Secretary in charge of the state Mohan Prakash, however, said since the party is yet to begin the process of scrutinising the candidates there is no reason for resentment or anger among partymen.

Of the six Rajya Sabha seats for which elections will be held on June 17, Congress has two. While media baron Vijay Darda is a front-runner and is likely to be renominated, former Lok Sabha Speaker Shivraj Patil is now the Governor of Punjab.

PTI