Chidambaram, Ramesh, Tankha file nomination
Congress leaders P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Vivek Tankha and Imran Pratapgarhi filed their nomination papers on Monday for the June 10 election to Rajya Sabha, amid voices of discontent emerging from within the party over the choice of candidates.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had on Sunday night cleared the names of 10 party nominees, including Ajay Maken, Randeep Surjewala and Mukul Wasnik, for election to the upper house. Soon after the announcement of the candidates, actress-turned-politician Nagma Morarji and the party’s national spokesperson Pawan Khera made clear their disappointment over not being nominated.
The BJP also used it to take a swipe at the Congress leadership, saying the Gandhis cannot think beyond their coterie. Nagma raised questions over the candidature of minority cell head Imran Pratapgarhi, while Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam said that suppression of talent is a “suicidal step” for the party.
Sanyam Lodha, an adviser to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, said the Congress should reconsider its decision to field candidates to the Rajya Sabha from outside the state.
“Shayad meri tapasya mein kuch kami reh gayi (Maybe my penance fell short),” Khera tweeted.
Responding to it, Nagma said, “My 18 years of penance fell short before Imran bhai (Imran Pratapgarhi, who has been fielded from Maharashtra).
“Sonia Ji our Congress president had personally committed to accommodating me in RS in 2003/04 when I joined Congress party on her behest we weren’t in power then.
“Since then it’s been 18 years (but) they didn’t find an opportunity, Mr Imran is accommodated in RS from Maharashtra. I ask am I less deserving,” she tweeted.
However, both Khera and Nagma later congratulated the nominees.
Seeking to do some damage control, Khera also posted a 1.41-minute video on Twitter, saying, “Getting blinded by personal ambition is a luxury you and I cannot afford in this fight. This is a fight bigger than any ambition.”
He quoted a couplet from Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poem “Madhushala”, saying one should not be afraid of getting burnt.
He hailed the Congress and thanked the people for standing with him and cited the example of Sonia Gandhi, who sacrificed the top post of prime minister.
Imran Pratapraghi, when asked about his candidature said, “There is no opposition to my candidature and the entire party stands united. The entire country comes within Maharashtra and there is no question of outsider or insider.”
“There is no question of any opposition to the decision of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and the entire party stands together behind her decision. We will win the Rajya Sabha election.”
When asked about Nagma’s criticism, he said, “Have you seen another tweet by her congratulating everyone nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Please see that tweet, it is more beautiful.”
Responding to Nagma Morarji’s tweet, Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam said that the penance of Salman Khurshid, Tariq Anwar and Ghulam Nabi Azad was of over 40 years, but they too were “martyred”. “’Suppression’ of talent is a ‘suicidal step’ for the party,” he said in another tweet in Hindi.
Shortly after the Congress announced its candidates, Lodha had tweeted, “The Congress party should explain why no Congress leader/worker from Rajasthan is nominated for the Rajya Sabha elections,” with the hashtag ‘Congress Sankalp’.
He cautioned the Congress’ top brass that the party would suffer a “huge blow” in the assembly elections next year if it failed to accommodate leaders from Rajasthan in the Upper House. BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya also took to Twitter to criticise the Congress leadership over Rajya Sabha nominations, saying it has led to discontentment.
“The Chintan Shivir clearly didn’t serve any purpose. Soon after, Congress saw high-profile exits. Now it has disappointed its Rajasthan, Chattisgarh (both election-bound) and Maharashtra units by denying nomination to locals for RS,” Malviya said on Twitter. “The Gandhis can’t see beyond their coterie,” he said.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole, however, said that every worker “accepts the decision of our leader Sonia Gandhi”.
“Congress is a democratic party and anyone can feel that he is more deserving, but everyone accepts the decision of the high command and Imran Pratapgarhi will be elected as the party’s Rajya Sabha nominee from Maharashtra,” he said.
Another Congress leader Milind Deora put out a cryptic tweet, saying, “The optimist-pessimist test.” He put out a picture of light signage with the writing, “You matter Don’t give up” if read vertically and “You don’t matter Give up” if read horizontally.
Deora has been a contender for a Rajya Sabha seat.
Earlier all the leaders nominated to Rajya Sabha thanked the party leadership for reposing faith in them.
“Grateful for the support and good wishes of the Congress President, the Congress leadership, millions of Congress members, colleagues and friends,” Chidambaram said in a tweet.
Speaking to reporters after filing his nomination in Chennai, the senior leader thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and other allies of the DMK-Congress combine, including the Left parties.
The former union minister, however, declined to comment on voices of discontent within his party over the choice of candidates for the June 10 Rajya Sabha biennial polls.
Vivek Tankha, a leader of the G23 dissident group that had raised questions on the Congress leadership and sought the party’s overhaul, said, “I am sorry if I have hurt anyone due to my words or actions during this period so far. My attempt has always been to wipe tears and not give pain to anyone through my work.”
In another tweet, he said in 32 years of association with Kamal Nath, he has always been grateful to him for his unstinted support.