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Congress duo eye RS ticket

Ranchi, Jan. 19: Two prominent minority faces of the Congress are lobbying hard with the party’s central leadership to bag a ticket for the Rajya Sabha polls in Jharkhand scheduled for February 7.

While former Assembly Speaker Alamgir Alam, the party’s old timer, is seeking a fresh lease of life after the defeat in the Assembly poll in 2009, Manzoor Ahmed Ansari, the owner of Apollo hospitals, is trying to strengthen his position in power politics.

Sources said both Alam and Ansari, who is also the general secretary of the state Congress unit, were seen hobnobbing with senior leaders at the just concluded AICC meeting in Delhi.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Alam did not hide his aspirations. “I may be a contender, but it is for the party to decide.”

Ansari, on the other hand, couldn’t be reached for his comments.

Insiders claimed that Alam was a better choice considering his clout among the Muslims in Santhal Pargana and sounded sceptical about chances of Ansari, who claims to enjoy supports of pasmanda Muslims in Jharkhand.

“The party is seriously considering a Muslim face for the RS polls. And Alam will be a better political choice,” said a senior Congress leader.

With BJP’s J.P.N. Singh and Independent Parimal Nathwani vacating their seats in the Upper House, the BJP, JMM, JVM and RJD, too, are gearing up for the polls.

With the favourable numbers, the Congress-JMM-RJD coalition is planning to win both seats. The Congress and the JMM will contest one seat each.

“We will hold a meeting with alliance partners and supporting MLAs before announcing the candidates. It may take a couple days,” said state Congress chief Sukhdeo Bhagat.

But the RJD, with five MLAs in its kitty, is learnt to have made an informal proposal to the Congress, seeking support for its own candidate. The Congress, however, is not under any pressure as the RJD is more desperate for an alliance with the national party for the Lok Sabha elections.

JMM general secretary Vinod Pandey said, “The JMM will field its candidate. We will meet on Tuesday to discuss names of the prospective candidate.”

JVM chief Babulal Marandi, who has 11 MLAs in the Assembly, will also hold a meet with party seniors tomorrow to discuss the strategy. The party has already declared that it would maintain safe distance from both Congress and BJP. The party may also consider extending support to Independent Parimal Nathwani if he decides to contest.

But he is yet to make up his mind on a second run. “So far I have not taken a decision in this regard. But I will meet every political party for support, if I contest,” Nathwani told The Telegraph.

State BJP vice-president Rakesh Prasad said the party would take a call on the issue after January 25.