Cong names big guns for RS elections

Cong names big guns for RS elections

Party aims to target govt in Upper House

Cong names big guns for RS elections

The Congress on Saturday named its top guns P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Jairam Ramesh, Ambika Soni and Oscar Fernandes as candidates for the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha. 

The rationale behind the party’s decision to field the former Union ministers was to take on the Narendra Modi government in Parliament. 

While Chidambaram was named from Maharashtra, Jairam Ramesh and Oscar Fernandes were nominees for two sure seats from Karnataka. 

One nomination from Karnataka was left to the general secretary, PCC chief and Congress Legisture Party leader to decide. May 31 is the last date for filing nominations.

Sibal will have to try his luck from Uttar Pradesh where the Congress is short of eight votes. Sibal may approach SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The renomination of  Ambika Soni from Punjab was no surprise as the state goes to polls next year. She is the chairperson of the Punjab campaign panel, which has rallied behind Captain Amarinder Singh.

The party's list of eight candidates from seven states included former additional solicitor general Vivek Tankha for a seat from Madhya Pradesh and senior leader Pradeep Tamta.
Tamta is close to chief minister Harish Rawat from Uttarakhand, and OBC leader Chhaya Verma from Chhattisgarh. Fourteen Congress MPs recently retired from the Rajya Sabha and the party is hopeful of getting eight elected back.

A party release said the names were finalised by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in consultation with leaders from different states.

Chidambaram and Sibal, along with Jairam Ramesh, were brought in to strengthen the party’s position in the Upper House where the NDA lacks majority.These leaders, given their experience in the previous UPA government, would be heavily armed with "facts and figures" to put the Prime Minister and other ministers in the dock, Congress officials said.

Besides, these leaders would engage the Modi government when it seeks the Congress' support for key legislation like the Goods and Services Taxes Bill (GST) over which Rahul Gandhi's position has held up its passage in the Upper House.Chidambaram's nomination from Maharashtra came after Congress leaders in other states, including Karnataka, apparently were not so enthusiastic about accommodating outsiders. 

The nomination of Jairam Ramesh, former rural development and environment minister, from Karnataka was seen to ensure that the party's criticism of the government's policies is consistent and there is no let-up. Ramesh had earlier represented Telangana in the Rajya Sabha. 

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