The Congress may manage to secure one Rajya Sabha seat from Bihar, 16 years after R.K. Dhawan was elected to the Upper House in 2002. However, for that, it needs support from the Rashtirya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress’ ally in the state.
Besides the Janata Dal United (JDU), Rashtirya Janata Dal (RJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress is also in the race for the Rajya Sabha elections in Bihar.
Although the date for the elections is yet to be announced, the prospects of possible candidates are being discussed in the Congress. Political observers say that the Congress is in a bad shape in Bihar and if the party succeeds in reining in rebel leaders, then, after 16 years, the Congress may manage to secure one Rajya Sabha seat.
Denying allegations of infighting in the party, Kaukab Quadri, acting president of Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee, said: “There is no infighting in the Congress; leaders are working for the party’s benefit only and they are devoted to it. Only the party high command (central leadership) will take a decision on the Rajya Sabha nomination and that will be binding on party leaders.”
When told that the names of C.P. Joshi, Bihar Congress in-charge, and Akhilesh Singh, former Union minister, are doing the rounds as prospective candidates for the Rajya Sabha seat, Quadri said: “Of course, they are prominent Congress leaders, but the final nominee will be decided only after consultation with Congress’ ally RJD.”
Besides Joshi and Akhilesh Singh, Congress is also mulling over the names of either of its two stalwarts—Meira Kumar, former Lok Sabha speaker and Dalit face of the Congress in the state, and Shakeel Ahmad, former minister and Muslim leader from Bihar.
For one Rajya Sabha seat from the Bihar quota, any candidate will need the support of a minimum 35 legislators. RJD has 79 legislators in the state and with the votes of 70 legislators, the party can manage to win two Rajya Sabha seats. With the support of RJD’s remaining nine legislators, the Congress can win one seat in the state.
According to sources, the Congress in Bihar is divided in two factions. One faction is with the current acting BPCC president Quadri, while the other is with the former president Ashok Chaudhary.
“Chaudhary’s political rivalry with Joshi is not a secret in Bihar. If these two factions in the Congress work against the party’s line and opt for cross voting in the Rajya Sabha elections, then the party’s chance of winning is bleak,” a source close to DPCC said.
The Rajya Sabha quota for political parties is decided on the basis of the maximum number of seats gained by any political party in the respective state. If a party has sufficient numbers required for filing the nomination, the party has a quota.
On the other hand, allocation of the number of seats for the states is made on the basis of the population of each state.