Congress party spokesperson and member of the legislative council Hussain Dalwai on Monday filed a nomination for the by-election to the Rajya Sabha seat from Maharashtra.
The election was necessitated following the resignation of Prithviraj Chavan in April, after he took over as the chief minister of the state.
Dalwai’s nomination came as a surprise amidst talks of several other Congress heavyweights vying for the seat including former Union home minister Shivraj Patil. Sources said that Dalwai, a Konkani Muslim, was given a chance to signal the party’s commitment to giving the state’s Muslims a chance to represent the Rajya Sabha.
Moreover, there was no consensus among the different factions supporting various heavyweights, which helped Dalwai’s cause. However, a section of minority leaders within the party were unhappy with this candidature since Dalwai is a reformist Muslim and “not representative of the Muslim community at large’’.
Dalwai rubbished these allegations saying, “I filed my nomination papers in the presence of several Muslim leaders who have backed me.’’
Even as his route to Rajya Sabha now seems certain, there are concerns over the seat he has just vacated. Given the internal bickering in Congress, party seniors are concerned whether the party will retain the legislative council seat.
The most likely incumbent for this seat is Sanjay Dutt, who had vacated his seat for Chavan. However, the deep-rooted factionalism in the party means there is no guarantee of Dutt getting elected.
“There is a secret ballot for the legislative council seat. Congress legislators may not vote for Dutt and may point a finger at its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party, for being mischief-makers. There is no way of keeping tabs,’’ said a senior Congress functionary.