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Congress leaders discuss seat-sharing for Lok Sabha polls; Sonia Gandhi may be named for RS election

The former Congres president is the frontrunner for the Rajya Sabha seat from Himachal Pradesh that will fall vacant after BJP chief J P Nadda's tenure ends this April.

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Top Congress leaders on Monday met at the residence of party chief Mallikarjun Kharge to discuss the finalisation of seat-sharing arrangements with various parties of the INDIA bloc. Sources said the Congress president is also learnt to have discussed the names of party candidates for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections with parliamentary party chief Sonia Gandhi. Gandhi and party treasurer Ajay Maken are among the likely candidates, sources said.

The former Congres president is the frontrunner for the Rajya Sabha seat from Himachal Pradesh that will fall vacant after BJP chief JP Nadda's tenure ends this April. Her name is also doing the rounds for a Rajasthan seat as former prime minister Manmohan Singh tenure is about to end. The Congress is yet to announce any candidate for the biennial elections for 56 seats from 15 states. The last date for filing nominations is February 15 and elections will be held on February 27.

Gandhi may be nominated by the party for the lone seat from Himachal Pradesh as she is unlikely to contest the Lok Sabha polls this time. Gandhi had stated during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls that it was the last time she was contesting in the general elections.

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Among others present at Kharge's residence were AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, Maken, Mukul Wasnik, who is the convener of the party's alliance committee, and Salman Khurshid. The Congress is finalising seat-sharing talks with other like-minded parties including DMK in Tamil Nadu, JMM in Jharkhand, RJD in Bihar and NCP and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

Besides, the sources said, Congress is in the final stages of seat-sharing talks with the National Conference, whose leader Farooq Abdullah has been summoned for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case pertaining to the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA). The Enforcement Directorate has issued a fresh summons to Abdullah, asking him to depose at the agency's office in Srinagar on Tuesday.

Congress leaders alleged that it was being done to put "pressure" on Abdullah's party not to have a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress. Sources in the Congress also claimed that Ashok Chavan, who quit the party on Monday, had met Congress chief Kharge last week and conveyed that there is "tremendous pressure" on him from probe agencies to defect.

The Congress has to name candidates for election to Rajya Sabha seats from the states of Karnataka, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly Tika Ram Jully urged the high command to announce Sonia Gandhi's candidature from Rajasthan.

"We have requested the national president and the high command to nominate Sonia Gandhi to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. If she is elected from here, all the Congress workers from the state will be very happy," the Congress leader said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DNA staff and is published from PTI)

 

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