Lobbying among Congress leaders for a Rajya Sabha nomination has started, with party veteran K. Karunakaran reportedly emerging as the main contenders for the lone seat the UDF is in a position to win out of the three vacancies in Kerala.
Between them, the Congress and the National Conference would share the four slots available in Jammu and Kashmir. Among those expected to be nominated include former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who gave up his Rajya Sabha seat when he was sent to take charge of the state, and Pradesh Congress Committee chief and Union minister Saifuddin Soz. Soz's term ended last November.
But a final decision on the nominations is yet to be taken since the party is also to decide whether or not to field them for the Lok Sabha polls.
Like Soz, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah is also likely to be renominated by his party. In fact, his son Omar had, before taking oath as the chief minister, told reporters in Delhi that his father had a role to play in the Capital.
Karunakaran's daughter Padmaja Venugopal had called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi reportedly to make a case for her father for the lone seat that the UDF can lay claim to. On Thursday, Karunakaran staked the party's claim in the face of a challenge posed by Kerala Congress' K.S. Mani who wanted the seat for his party this time.
"In a coalition set up there are no differences between small and big parties,'' he said, referring to Mani's demand that the party be given the seat as it had foregone its claims several times in the past.
The three vacancies were created when Vayalar Ravi, Balkrishna Pillai and K. Chandran Pillai completed their term. Ravi, a Congressman, intends to contest the Lok Sabha polls this time but would have to depend on the party's decision on this score.