The Congress on Sunday nominated senior journalist Kumar Ketkar as its candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections in Maharashtra on March 23. The party released a list of candidates for elections to the Upper House of Parliament in six other states as well – Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal.
Ketkar is the chief editor of Dainik Divya Marathi and has worked with The Economic Times and Marathi newspaper Loksatta. He has previously accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre of trying to “destroy the legacy of Nehru and Gandhi”.
In all, elections to 59 Rajya Sabha seats in 16 states will be held on March 23, the Election Commission announced on Friday. These include six seats in Maharashtra. The Congress holds two of these seats. The Nationalist Congress Party also holds two seats while the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena share the remaining two.
The elections in Maharashtra have been necessitated by the retirement on April 2 of Rajani Patil and Rajiv Shukla of the Congress, Vandana Chavan and DP Tripathi of the Nationalist Congress Party, Ajay Kumar Sancheti of the BJP and Anil Desai of the Shiv Sena.
With 122 MLAs, the BJP is the largest party in the 288-member Assembly. As 42 votes are required for a winning candidate, it appears to be in a position to send three members to the Upper House, with the help of the Shiv Sena and Independents, media reports said.
On the other hand, the Congress has 42 MLAs in the House and, as such, can elect only one candidate.
Media reports said the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is likely to gain 10 more seats from the elections on March 23, taking its tally in the 245-member Rajya Sabha to 86 – still short of the halfway mark of 123. Among the big names, Finance minister Arun Jaitley is set to be re-elected while cricketer Sachin Tendulkar will retire.