Cong nominates Lok Sabha MP from UP as RS candidate from Assam
Guwahati, January 28
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Congress has nominated its Lok Sabha MP from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh Sanjoy Singh for Rajya Sabha seat from Assam. Singh filed his nominations in Guwahati on Tuesday.
Polling for three Rajya Sabha seats in Assam will take place on February 7. The seats are currently held by Congress, Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and regional Asom Gana Parishad. The Congress sits pretty with 79 legislators in a house of 126. It also enjoys the support of its ally BPF which has 12 legislators.With Singh filing nominations for Rajya Sabha seat from Assam, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi may feel relieved.
Speculations were rife that Singh, the ‘Raja of Amethi’, could be pitted against the Gandhi scion by the BJP for the upcoming general elections. The reports said Singh could drift towards the saffron party which gained momentum ever since he had invited a dozen BJP leaders to his recent birthday party.
However, the Sultanpur MP is no stranger to the BJP. He had contested the 1998 polls on a BJP ticket and defeated Congress leader Satish Sharma in Amethi. But a year later, he was defeated by Sonia Gandhi in her maiden electoral battle. He went back to the Congress in 2003. Singh was said to be miffed with the party high command for denying him a ministerial berth. The high command’s offer of a Rajya Sabha seat to him now is seen as a move to buy peace with him.
The Congress was also not keen on opening up another front in Amethi where Kumar Vishwas of the Aam Aadmi Party will vie against Rahul.
Once close to both Sanjay Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Singh fell out with the Gandhis in 1988 after he switched his loyalties to the Janata Dal. He was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1990 and to Lok Sabha in 1998. However, his lower house term lasted just about a year. In 2009, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the second time but could not ‘win back’ the Gandhi family’s confidence.
He was also twice elected to the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly during the 1980s and held various ministerial portfolios and committee positions. He was Union minister for communications in 1991. Meanwhile, a number of Congress leaders in Assam were peeved at Singh’s nomination from the state although they were not saying anything on record. Intellectuals and leaders of civil society organisations have also registered their protest against his nomination.