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Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 04, 2014
Amidst a rush among politicians to secure safe berths in Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has done something opposite: being a member of the Upper House, he wants to contest the Lok Sabha polls. Aiyar is reportedly lobbying hard to secure a ticket from Tamil Nadu's Mayiladuthurai and Congress insiders told HT that his name is on the top of the party's initial list of probable candidates of that seat.

Recently, political heavyweights like NCP's Sharad Pawar and Congress' Kumari Selja opted for Rajya Sabha seats albeit being sitting members of Lok Sabha. Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh too, chose a Rajya Sabha berth—instead of fighting Lok Sabha polls—as he decided to end his self-imposed ten years 'hibernation' from electoral politics.

"I have no information about my position in the party's screening committee list. But yes, I have told the leadership that I am very keen to contest the polls," Aiyar told HT.

The move, however, has little risk as he is not required to resign from the Rajya Sabha to fight the polls. If defeated, Aiyar can retain his chair in Rajya Sabha till his current term ends 2015. But Aiyar is also aware that a drubbing in the polls will seriously dent his political credentials.

"This seat was given to me by Rajiv Gandhi and I want to fulfill the duty on his behalf. Even in today's circumstances which appear to be most challenging, I feel in my bones that notwithstanding the challenge, I shall overcome," the former union minister said.

Aiyar rattled his party when he took a jibe at BJP's Narendra Modi over the latter's tea-selling antecedent and handed over a political plank to the Opposition party on a platter.