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Rajya Sabha polls: Diggy, Nath nominated over Rahul’s choice

Published:

NEW DELHI:

Congress

‘s nomination of Ashok Singh from Madhya Pradesh for

Rajya Sabha

marked a climbdown for

Rahul Gandhi

who was pushing for former MP and confidante Meenakshi Natarajan for the upper House. The advantage for Singh was that he became a sort of joint candidate of veterans

Digvijaya Singh

and

Kamal Nath

, while the central leadership is learnt to have stuck to Natarajan for elevation.

Singh’s profile is intriguing as he has lost four consecutive Lok Sabha elections from Gwalior, even though it is argued in his defence that he came second by close margins in a tough constituency. But what became his calling card was that he has been “pathologically” opposed to former party insider Jyotiraditya Scindia. This testimonial seems to have clinched his case, since the party is looking to rebuild in the Gwalior-Chambal region after Scindia’s exit and defeat of key leaders in the recent assembly polls. That he is an OBC only boosted his claim.
But sources said Singh’s camp credentials became mysteriously bipartisan this time around. While he has been known as a loyalist of Digvijaya Singh, and Nath was said to have lobbied for himself for RS, sources close to Nath said he had indeed put forward Singh’s name. The surmise now is that once Nath was turned down by the party brass, he suggested Singh for RS.
“Ashok Singh is a Digvijaya man, but Nath made him the treasurer of the state Congress,” a leader said.

In contrast, Rahul preferred Natarajan in the upper House. She had won the Mandsaur LS seat in 2009, but has since lost the polls. A close aide, she has overseen projects close to Rahul’s heart in Congress.
But Nath resisted the name till the last moment. When he refused to relent in his final conversations with the leadership, the party appears to have agreed on Singh. The name did surprise many in Congress.
With the leadership having had its way in the appointment of MP Congress president Jitu Patwari and legislature party leader Umang Singhar after the shock defeat in the recent assembly elections under Nath’s stewardship, the veteran had his way in this round.
Amid claims and counterclaims, Singh is said to have extracted an assurance from Nath about the RS berth after the assembly defeat. “After the announcement, Singh thanked Nath that he had kept his word,” a Nath aide claimed.

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