The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lobbying for Upper House begins

Guwahati, March 5: The spotlight might be on the Lok Sabha polls, but it is backroom politics for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections that is in actual focus.

Two seats for the Upper House will fall vacant on March 26. While the ruling Congress is certain to get its candidate through in one of the seats, hectic intra and inter-party politicking has started for the other.

The Congress frontrunners for the Rajya Sabha nominations are former chief minister Anwara Taimur and state Planning Board vice-chairman Silvius Condapan and adviser to the chief minister Bhagaban Lahkar. One of the party general secretaries, Kirip Chaliha, who has sought a ticket for a Lok Sabha seat, is another aspirant.

The Congress is in a dilemma over their second preference vote. It is yet to decide whether to put up a candidate for the seats or support a third candidate likely to be propped up by Independents and smaller parties, which have a combined strength of nine.

Congress sources said its top leadership, including the chief minister, was not very keen to put up two candidates, as it was not sure of victory of the second one. If they do not support the Independent candidate, they will end up giving a walkover to the combined Opposition as had happened in the previous two polls.

The party, therefore, may strike a deal with the Independents.

In the House of 125, the Congress will require 42 first-preference votes. The party has a current strength of 75 in the House.

The Independents are banking on 35 Congress’ surplus votes in addition to their nine.

“To prevent a walkover of the Opposition candidate, the Congress will support our nominee,” said an Independent MLA.

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