Congress announces Rajya Sabha candidates, places a check on Siddaramaiah

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi

Congress with its strength can easily win two seats and it is banking on JD (S) rebels and Independents to win the third seat. Maharashtra will elect six of these and the BJP has the numbers to elect three. Monday is the last day to file nominations. The polling and counting will take place on March 23.

The BJP will field Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Dr Anil Jain, GVL Narsimha Rao, and Harnath Singh Yadav from Uttar Pradesh, while Baluni will make his RS debut from Uttarakhand.

Ketkar, 72, who has edited Marathi dailies like Loksatta and Maharashtra Times, has been a left-liberal Congress supporter throughout his career. He has now floated his own party, the Maharashtra Swabhimaan Paksh, and could aid the BJP's bids for re-election to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly in 2019.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi will contest from West Bengal, where he will be supported by the state's ruling TMC. The BJP has yet to declare its nominee for the third seat.

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Ajay Pratap Singh and Kailash Soni are candidates from Madhya Pradesh.

Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad's plea that he needed young leaders in the Upper House has come as a blessing for the young Congressmen and closed the doors for veterans like K Rehman Khan. The party did not consider a Lingayat for a seat although former minister Shamanur Shivashankarappa's name is said to have been discussed.

"As it is, party cadres are not happy about so many imports from other parties getting key positions in the BJP", the BJP leader said.

Prominent names in the list include Konkan strongman Narayan Rane (Maharashtra), who quit Congress a year ago, Kirori Lal Meena (Rajasthan), BJP's prominent TV-face GVL Narasimha Rao (Uttar Pradesh), National General Secretary Anil Jain (UP) and national media coordinator Anil Baluni (Uttarakhand). The maximum number of candidates (7) have been nominated from Uttar Pradesh, where the party has a firm majority and vacancy of 10 seats. "We have chose to join hands with the secular forces against the oppressive and communal politics and chose to vote for the BSP candidate", Lallu said, adding that the central leadership of the party has been apprised of the decision and they have supported it.

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