Cong. divided over Azad’s renomination from State

Apparently peeved at the proposal, a section of the Congress Central and State leaderships are against offering the Rajya Sabha seat from Kerala to Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad whose tenure ends on February 15.

The move to renominate Mr. Azad comes at a time when he had recently fallen out with the Central leadership by writing a letter as part of the group of 23 leaders to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, asking to fix the leadership issue in the party.

The dilemma

Simultaneously the Congress party is on the horns of a dilemma to scout for a new Leader of Opposition, a post which Mr. Azad has been holding since 2014.

However, a few leaders believe that Mr. Azad who has remained steadfastly loyal to the Gandhis would possibly get a chance from Kerala where three Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant by April.

Under the current dispensation, Kerala is the only State from where the Congress-led United Democratic Front will be able to send him to the Rajya Sabha.

Among the three members who will be retire from the Upper House are senior Congress leader Vayalar Ravi, Indian Union Muslim League leader P.V. Abdul Wahab and CPI(M) nominee leader K.K. Ragesh.

A senior functionary of the party said that it was for the high command to take a call on Mr. Azad’s renomination from Kerala.

Not keen

Leaders from the State are not keen on the candidate of Mr. Azad from the State. Also the Election Commission of India has not decided on the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in April or May.

Incidentally, AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. But that political matrix necessarily may not favour Mr. Azad in the present fluid situation in the Congress in the State, the sources said.

Mr. Azad became a member of the Upper House from Maharashtra in 1990. In 1996 he shifted to home State , Jammu and Kashmir, but resigned mid-way to become its Chief Minister.

Now, Jammu and Kashmir has ceased to be a State after the BJP-led government at the Centre passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which contained provisions that dissolved the State.

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