Karnataka: Congress renominates two RS candidates, makes room for Ajay Maken

The Congress can nominate three candidates for the four RS seats falling vacant in the state

Ajay Maken (centre) is the Congress' new Rajya Sabha nominee from Karnataka (photo: @ajaymaken/X)
Ajay Maken (centre) is the Congress' new Rajya Sabha nominee from Karnataka (photo: @ajaymaken/X)

Naheed Ataulla

AICC treasurer Ajay Maken and sitting Rajya Sabha MP Syed Naseer Hussain — both close confidantes of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge — have been nominated by the party to contest the Rajya Sabha (RS) elections from Karnataka.

The Congress can nominate three candidates for the four RS seats falling vacant in the state, thanks to its 135 members in the legislative Assembly. Along with Maken and Hussain, the party has renominated  sitting MP G.C. Chandrashekhar.

The BJP has given its ticket to former MLC (member of legislative Council) Narayana Krishnasa Bhandage, who was closely associated with the Ram temple movement. The last date for filing of nomination papers is 15 February, and the elections are on 27 February.

According to Congress sources, the three candidates are close to Gandhi, Kharge, and Karnataka deputy chief minister D.K. Shivakumar. Among others whose names came up for the three seats were AICC secretary in-charge of Telangana Mansoor Ali Khan and former legislative Council chairman B.L. Shankar.

However, the sources said with Hussain being renominated, the quota for a Muslim nominee was filled, while Chandrashekhar is from the Vokkaliga community and has been included in the list in place of fellow community member Shankar.

Khan was given the Rajya Sabha ticket in 2022 with the Congress hoping for Janata Dal (S) support since it was in a position to send only one member to the RS. However, the JD(S) backed out at the last minute and fielded its own candidate, businessman D. Kupendra Reddy, who lost. The BJP took the remaining three seats.

The state's Lingayat community has also been demanding an RS seat, with  senior Congress MLA Shamnur Shivashankarappa, also the president of the All India Veerashaiva Sabha, writing to Kharge recently on the issue.

Meanwhile, prior to his appointment as AICC treasurer, Maken quit as the party's Rajasthan in-charge. Maken has twice been elected to the Lok Sabha, and was the youngest speaker of the Delhi Assembly at the age of 39 in 2003.

Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the BJP's sitting RS member from Karnataka, has not been accommodated this time. BJP sources said he may be asked to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Kerala, since Union home minister Amit Shah wants RS candidates to find an electoral base and make way for new faces in the upper house.

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