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Digvijaya surprise in RS race

New Delhi, Jan. 27: The Congress today sprang Rajya Sabha poll surprises by giving a ticket to Digvijaya Singh from Madhya Pradesh and zeroing in on Sanjay Singh from Assam, despite opposition to outsiders in the north-eastern state after Manmohan Singh occupied a seat for nearly two decades.

Though Sanjay’s name had not been formally declared till late tonight, sources said Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had already been asked to manage the numbers for him. The polls will be held on February 7.

The choice of Sanjay, currently a Lok Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh’s Sultanpur, seems part of a larger plan.

He is reportedly feeling isolated and the Congress fears his rebellion could affect Rahul Gandhi’s chances in nearby Amethi. Sanjay hails from a royal family in Amethi and was earlier reported to be in touch with the BJP.

Amethi could feature an interesting battle this time as Aam Aadmi Party leader Kumar Vishwas has also announced plans to take on Rahul, who has to campaign for the Congress in the entire country instead of concentrating on his own constituency.

The decision on Digvijaya also stunned many as he had expressed his desire to contest the Lok Sabha polls and could have helped the Congress win at least one seat in BJP-dominated Madhya Pradesh, his home state. Some leaders argued that as general secretary and key election strategist, he was required at the Centre and Rajya Sabha seat would help achieve the goal. Digvijaya oversees Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, where the Congress has high stakes in the Lok Sabha election.

But some others view the nomination as a ploy to remove Digvijaya from Madhya Pradesh where Rahul wants to develop a new leadership.

Another general secretary, Madhusudan Mistry, has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. Veteran Motilal Vora has been re-nominated from Chhattisgarh and Murli Deora from Maharashtra.

While all three sitting members from Andhra — K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao, M.A. Khar and T. Subbarami Reddy — have been retained, Ranjib Biswal got the nod from Odisha, Viplove Thakur from Himachal Pradesh, Abdul Salam from Manipur and Wansuk Syiem from Meghalaya.

The nominees from Haryana were not announced till late tonight, prolonging the suspense amid speculation the high command wants to accommodate Sheila Dikshit from the northern state. Dikshit was Delhi chief minister for 15 years.