TMC MP's nomination to ESIC shows a 'divided Oppn'

TMC' Dola Sen trounced Congress' Pradeep Bhattacharya in an election for choosing a Rajya Sabha nominee to the Board of Employees' State Insurance Corporation Board (ESIC) exposing chinks in the Opposition ranks, as parties failed to arrive at a consensus in a fight in which the BJP had not fielded a candidate.

Sources claimed that the Congress refused to accept a formula where a third candidate from the CPM, trade union leader and MP Elamarom Kareem, be chosen as the nominee and this resulted in a three-cornered contest where the former with 48 MPs lost to the candidate of the TMC, which has 13 MPs in Rajya Sabha.

Sen, also a trade union leader in West Bengal, garnered around 90 votes while Bhattacharya got around 45 while Kareem bagged eight.

TMC leaders claimed that the party managed to get the support of MPs from parties like the Samajwadi Party, the BSP, the AIADMK, the JD(U) and the BJD.

Sources claimed that the TMC had suggested to the Congress that they all should vote for Kareem and suggested this to the Left too. However, Congress is claimed to insisted that it will fight the election, as it was confident of a win.

A senior Left leader claimed there was no such agreement.

The TMC, sources said, was of the view that the convention and tradition of unanimously choosing nominees to such Boards should continue and that it was willing to back out of the contest.

Usually, sources said, if there are more than a single candidate, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs tries to evolve a consensus. However, this time, it was claimed that no such effort was made.

On Tuesday, sources said, the TMC suggested that it was willing to opt out provided the Congress too withdrew from the race in favour of Kareem.

As the voting had to be conducted, the TMC is claimed to have said that a section of MPs should vote in favour of Kareem.

"There is no whip. This election is not on party lines. Congress felt its candidate could win because it has the numbers. That has not happened," a senior Opposition leader said.

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