Rajya Sabha polls another focus point for Cong in 2022

Among the 75 Upper House seats going to biennial polls during 2022, there are 7 seats from Punjab, 11 from Uttar Pradesh and one from Uttarakhand. These polls would be crucial for the party to improve its tally in Parliament.
Jammu: Congress supporters during a public rally at Khour village near Jammu, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI12_26_2021_000054B) (PTI)
Jammu: Congress supporters during a public rally at Khour village near Jammu, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI12_26_2021_000054B) (PTI)
Updated on Jan 17, 2022 01:47 AM IST
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Retaining its only government in northern India or returning to power in Uttarakhand and Goa or improving its tally in Uttar Pradesh — the Congress’s key stakes in the upcoming elections also include a possible gain in its Rajya Sabha tally this year.

Among the 75 Upper House seats going to biennial polls during 2022, there are 7 seats from Punjab, 11 from Uttar Pradesh and one from Uttarakhand. These polls would be crucial for the party to improve its tally in Parliament. For, as things stand now, the party is set to lose at least four seats in the Upper House in other states, according to its own internal calculations.

The Congress, which had 56 Rajya Sabha MPs in 2019, is now down to 34, but is still the largest Opposition party in the Rajya Sabha where, for a long time, the NDA government was in minority and suffered delays in clearing legislation. But for the past two years, the government has gradually gained control through numbers.

In 2022, the Congress will lose two seats in Assam when its MPs Ranee Narah and Ripun Bora complete their terms in April 22. In Karnataka, of the four seats going to the polls, it can retain its lone MP. The Congress will not be able to hold the seat held by former UPA minister Oscar Fernandez, who passed away last year September.

Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh, Anand Sharma, the party’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, is unlikely to win in a straight contest for one seat in April this year. The BJP is in power in the state.

Uttar Pradesh will see eleven seats falling vacant in 2022 followed by seven in Punjab and one in Uttarakhand. A good performance of the Congress in these states can help the principal opposition party gain a few seats to compensate for the losses from other areas.

Of these eleven Rajya Sabha seats in UP, the Congress has just one outgoing MP, Kapil Sibal. The party, led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the state, is trying to carve out a voter base among women.

“In our current position in the UP assembly, we would not be able to even retain Sibal’s seat. We have a long way to go in UP,” said a senior Congress strategist requesting not to be named.

The party’s best chance, therefore, lies in Punjab and Uttarakhand. Among the outgoing seven MPs in Punjab, the Congress has just two — Partap Singh Bajwa and Ambika Soni. “We are confident of retaining the state and an improved performance would help us bag additional seats in the state at the expense of BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal. Depending on the Punjab results, we can compensate the loss of four seats in other states from Punjab alone,” said the strategist.

In Uttarakhand, the biennial election would be held in July, three months after the assembly election in the state. This too, would be a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress and whoever wins the assembly poll can hope to bag the Rajya Sabha seat as well.

The Congress, otherwise, hopes to gain two seats in Rajasthan and one seat in Jharkhand, the strategist said.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022