Sonia Gandhi may contest to Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan

Congress is hoping to win 10 seats in the coming Rajya Sabha elections

Sonia gandhi (File) Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi shows a portrait of Rajiv Gandhi presented to her by newly-elected party president Mallikarjun Kharge | PTI

There is a strong buzz in the Congress that former party president Sonia Gandhi could be amongst the party's nominees for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections, a corollary of which is that the veteran leader may not contest the Lok Sabha polls.

According to Congress sources, there is a strong possibility of Sonia Gandhi, who has represented Rae Bareli in the Lok Sabha for multiple terms, opting for membership in the upper house now, thus vacating the constituency in Uttar Pradesh that has been for a long time, together with neighbouring Amethi, known as a Gandhi family stronghold.

The Congress state units in Telangana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan have offered seats to Gandhi. However, those within the party opine that Rajasthan would be the most preferred state for Sonia Gandhi to make an entry into the Rajya Sabha.

According to party sources, no formal meeting has taken place to date to finalise nominations for the Rajya Sabha elections, which are scheduled to be held on February 27, and the last date for nomination is February 15. However, it is likely that the Congress would opt to nominate local faces from the southern states of Karnataka and Telangana.

According to sources, if Gandhi opts for Telangana, the perception of the Congress leadership being more south-focused, which gained currency after former party chief Rahul Gandhi contested the Lok Sabha elections from Wayanad, Kerala could get strengthened.

The Congress is keen on maximising its Lok Sabha tally from the southern states, where it rates its prospects are better than in the north, hence, it believes that fielding local leaders satisfying state-level caste combinations for the Rajya Sabha polls would be a better strategy, with an eye on the parliamentary elections. The sources said the party's surveys suggest that it could win 20 seats in Karnataka and 12 seats in Telangana.

The party believes Rajasthan would be a better option for Gandhi compared to Himachal Pradesh as it is much more prominently placed in the Hindi heartland compared to the hilly state. It is also seen as a safer bet to contest from Rajasthan compared to Himachal Pradesh as the latter has a much smaller Assembly, hence posing a greater threat of cross-voting spoiling the party's plans.

According to the sources, the party is hoping to win 10 seats in the coming Rajya Sabha elections. It is expecting to win three seats in Karnataka, two in Telangana and one each in Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

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