The candidate selection for the Rajya Sabha election has become challenging for Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot. This time, Congress is in a position to win two seats unopposed and the third one with its supporting MLAs. This has led to high-level lobbying in the party and internal conflict has also come to the fore in the tribal belt of the state.
Four out of 10 Rajaysabha seats of Rajasthan will vacate this time and Congress is in a position to win two of them unopposed as they have a majority in the state assembly.
Congress needs 82 first preference votes to win two seats and it has 108 votes of its own, while for the third seat, it needs 15 extra votes and the party is confident to win the third seat with the support of independent candidates and other parties. 11 out of 13 independent candidates recently met with Gehlot and extended their support for Rajya Sabha election.
Looking at this comfortable position, many senior leaders from Rajasthan and from outside are lobbying for their candidature.
It is a general practice in Rajasthan Congress that whenever the party is in a position of a sure win in the Rajya Sabha election, one seat goes into the kitty of the party high command.
This has happened in the last two elections when former PM Manmohan Singh and party general secretary KC Venugopal were sent to the Upper House of the Parliament from Rajasthan.
This time also, many senior central leaders are eyeing Rajasthan seats. Although there is a buzz that local leaders are resisting it this time, they have conveyed this to the party high command as well.
The leaders have also said that the party is heading towards assembly elections next year so it is better to give chance to local leaders as it will help in balancing the caste equations and demands of representation from various sections.
What party leaders have conveyed to party high-command is evident also as many sections are demanding their representation especially tribals of southern Rajasthan who are waiting for their chance from Congress in Rajya Sabha for the last many years.
The situation is such that an internal conflict in the party has come to the fore in the tribal belt leading to tribal versus non-tribal issues.
As per reports, the party is considering Dinesh Khodnia, who is the district president of the party in Dungarpur. He is close to CM Ashok Gehlot and is a non-tribal.
On the other hand, tribal MLA Ganesh Ghodhra, who recently sent his resignation in protest of a case registered against him by government officials, has alleged Khodnia for this incident and has reportedly reached out to the party high command to demand tribal representation in Rajya Sabha.