Ahead of the crucial polls for picking the President and Vice-President, the United Progressive Alliance is planning to test its alliance management capabilities through the election of the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman. The current deputy chairman, K Rehman Khan, is set to retire in May.
As it doesn't have enough strength to elect its own candidate, the Congress is in talks with other parties for a possible consensus on the matter. While PJ Kurien, a three-term MP from Kerala, appears to be a potential deputy chairman, the party is not ruling out the option of supporting a Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate in case the Congress fails to build consensus on a member of its own.
However, Congress sources have made it clear that they would support an SP candidate only if party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav assures support to the Congress in the presidential and vice-presidential polls. "If the SP assures support to us in those elections, this would actually be a good move," said a Congress leader.
The Congress crisis managers are also pinning their hopes on Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
"We are confident that she will vote with the UPA in the presidential and vice-presidential elections," said a party member. The Congress has also assured Banerjee that she would be consulted before the party decides on its candidate.
The Congress is trying to find suitable candidates who would be acceptable to the other parties as well. While Banerjee is believed to be in touch with Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and others, she has not named anybody for the presidential and vice-presidential polls till now.