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Sonia unwilling to field Rajya Sabha MPs in polls

March 21, 2009 02:41 IST

Congress President Sonia Gandhi may not allow any Rajya Sabha MP of her party to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections. Even though some key party leaders -- currently members of the Upper House -- are keen to contest, Congress managers suggest Gandhi is not very inclined to see them in the poll fray.

The decision assumes significance as there is a lot of pressure on the Congress high command to field Prime Minister Manmohan Singh -- a Rajya Sabha member -- in the Lok Sabha polls. Leader of Opposition Lal Krishna Advani even went to the extent of proposing an amendment to the Constitution to make it mandatory for prime ministers to come through the Lok Sabha.

The Congress party has stood firm in this argument and maintains that it is not necessary for Dr Singh to contest in the Lok Sabha polls. Party leaders cite examples of I K Gujral and even Indira Gandhi to show that even previously, prime ministers have come from the Rajya Sabha.

Dr Singh had contested the polls in 1999 from the posh South Delhi constituency, but lost to BJP's Vijay Kumar Malhotra. Even as the Congress vehemently denies any link between Dr Singh's status and Gandhi's decision about Rajya Sabha MPs contesting polls, party sources admit if other upper House MPs are allowed to contest, the party may have to face more pressure to field Dr Singh as well.

"People can raise questions why the Congress is shying away from making Manmohan Singh a candidate while it is ready to field other Rajya Sabha MPs," said a general secretary.

According to party sources, former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna is trying his luck for the posh Bangalore (South) seat. Party sources suggest, at least 4-5 Congress MLAs from Karnataka -- considered loyal to Krishna -- are lobbying for him in Delhi.

Union Tourism Minister Ambika Soni, too, had shown interest to fight the coming general elections from Punjab.

A party general secretary told Business Standard, "Krishna has expressed keen interest to contest the Lok Sabha elections. He wants to contest from the Bangalore (South) seat against the BJP's Ananth Kumar."

Knowing well that the Congress president is averse to fielding Rajya Sabha MPs, Krishna has pitched his case as the party's best possible bet against Kumar.

Saubhadro Chatterji in New Delhi
Source: