Already in a minority in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress’s tally will go down even further after the biennial elections on June 17, making its task of pushing contentious legislation like the N-liability bill difficult.
In such a scenario, its dependence will continue on outside supporters like the BSP and SP. The parties, in a reversal of roles, will virtually swap their numerical strength in the Upper House: The SP that had seven will get two, and the BSP that had two is tipped to win at least six, pushing the Congress to do the tightrope walk in keeping the support of both parties.
In all, there are 56 vacancies (including one caused by the death of a member). Of these, the Congress held 18 seats. But it can win back only 14 or 15 on the basis of its numbers in the 13 states where Rajya Sabha polls are due. In effect, the Congress tally, which stood at 71, may be down to 67 or 68 in the 245-member House. The UPA tally, as it is, is under 100.
Those retiring include four union ministers — Ambika Soni, Anand Sharma, Santosh Bagrodia and Jairam Ramesh.
While I&B Minister Soni is sure to get renominated from Punjab, the Congress has to take a political call where Ramesh is
The MoS for Environment and Forests had irked his leaders with remarks about India being paranoid about Chinese entry into the country. Besides, there is resistance to his renomination from Andhra Pradesh, where party workers are demanding that a local candidate be accommodated in the four (out of the six) seats the party hopes to win.
Commerce Minister Anand Sharma’s term ended in April. Though his renomination is considered certain, the party will have to accommodate him from Haryana or Rajasthan or even Maharashtra as it does not have the numbers to get him elected from Himachal Pradesh, his home state. Sharma can remain a minister for six months — till October — unless he is elected to Parliament.
Bagrodia hails from Rajasthan where the Congress is confident of getting three seats. But if the Congress wants to renominate retirees like Gandhi loyalist Capt Satish Sharma, it will have to field him from another state as the party doesn’t have the numbers to do so from Uttarakhand, which he represented.
The Congress, which had two members from Karnataka last time, will get just one this time and this may go to Oscar Fernandes. Another casualty could be Indira Gandhi's former aide R.K. Dhavan, who had won from Bihar, courtesy Lalu Prasad’s RJD. It remains to be seen if the BSP, which can win six seats, will renominate Satish Chandra Mishra.