Buckling under pressure from Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee once again, the Congress withdrew its candidate Abdul Mannan from the Rajya Sabha race in West Bengal on Thursday.
The move, which would ensure the smooth passage of four Trinamool candidates to the upper house, is meant to keep Banerjee in good humour. Her support will be vital in the coming days for issues like the Lokpal and Lokayukta bill, the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre and the upcoming Presidential polls.
The new Trinamool members in Rajya Sabha will be railway minister Mukul Roy, media personalities Kunal Ghosh, Nadim-ul-Haq and Vivek Gupta.
Though none dared to challenge the diktat of the party’s Central leadership, state Congress leaders were visibly peeved. The move, they said, will lower the morale of party workers ahead of the crucial panchayat polls in the state. “This way, our party would lose relevance in Bengal,” said a senior state Congress leader.
“We were half-a-dozen MLAs short of the number required,” said Shakeel Ahmed, AICC in-charge of Bengal. “It is also a fact that we do not want to have a confrontation with our ally and create a controversy. For the sake of our alliance, our party high command has decided to withdraw our candidate from the fray.”
Later in the day, Mannan formally withdrew his nomination. “I am a loyal soldier of the party. Our leadership have asked me and I complied,” he said.
BJP wins 2 seats, Cong 1 in Karnataka
In Karnataka, the ruling BJP won two Rajya Sabha seats and the Congress one in the biennial elections held to four seats today. BJP nominees Basavaraj Patil Sedam, R Ramakrishna and K Rehaman Khan of Congress were declared elected by returning officer Om Prakash, when the deadline for withdrawal of nomination papers ended on Thursday.
Industrialist Rajiv Chandrashekar, who had filed nomination as an Independent, was also elected unopposed.
“The four had filed papers from Karnataka and their nominations were found in order. Since only four remained in the fray, they have been declared elected unopposed,” Om Prakash said. (With agency inputs)