The Congress on Thursday re-nominated Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and three other sitting members for the elections to the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi cleared the names of Ramesh, N Janardhana Reddy, V Hanumantha Rao and JD Seelam after a series of consultations with state leaders and the party in-charge of Andhra Pradesh.
Ramesh’s re-nomination has not only silenced his detractors, but also increased his chances of retaining his ministerial post in the reshuffle likely before the monsoon session. There were murmurs within the party that he might be dropped from the council of ministers and given an organisational post.
Ramesh’s nomination was under cloud after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gandhi reprimanded him last month for criticising in Beijing the home ministry’s approach towards the entry of Chinese companies in India.
Certain sections in the state Congress had also opposed his candidature on the ground that Ramesh, a native of Karnataka, is an outsider in Andhra Pradesh.
By re-nominating Ramesh and Satish Sharma (from Uttar Pradesh), the party high command has accommodated the loyalists.
With 156 legislators in the 294-member assembly, the Congress is comfortably placed to win four of the six Rajya Sabha seats going to polls on June 14. The party has the support of Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) and Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
The PRP has 16 legislators, while the AIMIM has seven MLAs. The TDP, with 92 legislators, is set to win two seats.
The Congress has, however, dropped Girish Sanghi, a newspaper magnate from Andhra Pradesh. He was last month removed as the state election officer in Bihar due to internal dissension within the party.
While Seelam, a retired IAS officer, has got the re-nomination in the Scheduled Caste quota, Rao, a backward caste leader, had the backing of Chief Minister K Rosaiah. The party has also reposed faith in Reddy, a former Andhra chief minister.
Friday is the last day for filing of nominations from Andhra Pradesh.