Is a Rajya Sabha nomination earlier this year stirred the hornet’s nest within the Congress party?
Out of the four Rajya Sabha seats available from Karnataka, Congress was assured of grabbing just one. People speculated that sitting MP Rajeev Gawda would get a re-nomination because he was a Rahul Gandhi loyalist.
However, it did not happen and Gawda, a former IIM professor was ignored, and instead, 9-time LS MP Mallikarjun Kharge was given the preference. Kharge was spearheading the Congress in the Lok Sabha between 2014 and 2019. He was battered in the last polls from Gulbarga in Hyderabad, Karnataka.
This incident of a former union minister and loyalist of the Gandhi family gaining entry to the Upper House ruffled many feathers in the Congress.
After losing in the 2014 general election, Congress decided to play the Dalit-Muslim card while sitting in the opposition. It explains Kharge in LS and Ghulam Nabi Azad in the Rajya Sabha.
Kharge was at the forefront in challenging the Modi government on the floor of the House. He vehemently opposed the appointment committees for key constitutional posts of which he was a member.
But after falling short of stipulated strength in the House, Kharge was not recognized as Leader of Opposition, unlike Azad, a post which comes with the status of a cabinet minister.
The two contenders for the post who were former union ministers- Manish Tiwari and Shashi Tharoor, were part of the 23 leaders who sent a missive to Sonia Gandhi. They are the only two sitting LS members on the list.
The story in RS is even more intriguing as Kharge’s nomination had the power to disrupt the pecking order in the Upper House. Moreover, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s term ends in February. A re-nomination to the Upper House and another term as LoP would have to be taken in the next six months.
What is more surprising is Mukul Wasnik’s signature in the missive to Sonia Gandhi because he was a long-term loyalist of the Gandhi family. Early this year, in the RS nominations, Congress’ nomination to the Upper House from Maharashtra went to Rahul Gandhi loyalist Rajiv Satav.
Hence nothing is surprising at the ongoing widespread unrest in the Upper House.
Some of the most important organizational appointments in the last six months had Rahul Gandhi’s patronage. The current hierarchy in the RS, reads between the lines into Kharge’s surprise entry in the house of the elders.
There was a hot atmosphere in the meeting of RS MPs with Sonia Gandhi earlier this month. And then the letter sprang up reported by the media just 24 hours ahead of the Monday CWC.