Left Front flays Congress for 'unilaterally announcing' RS candidate in Bengal

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In return, the BSP's four MLAs in Madhya Pradesh will support the lone Congress Rajya Sabha candidate from the state in the March 23 elections.

With appeals from the State BJP leadership to field a Kannadiga, the BJP top brass is likely to name Shivamogga district BJP President Rudregowda for the seat later today.

Polls to elect 58 Rajya Sabha members are scheduled to be held on March 23 and the last date of filing nomination is tomorrow. The party cleared the names of Amee Yagnik and former Union minister Naranbhai Ratwa from Gujarat, Dhiraj Prasad Sahu from Jharkhand, and Rajmani Patel from Madhya Pradesh.

Congress with its strength can easily win two seats and it is banking on JD (S) rebels and Independents to win the third seat.

Just a day after the Rajya Sabha polls, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi will be holding a dinner on March 13 where she has invited leaders of almost 14 opposition parties.

Other key candidates include a retired Lt. Gen. close to Congress' ex-Haryana CM Hooda, and two of its own general secretaries.

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The decision was announced by the leader of the Congress legislature party in the state assembly, Ajay Kumar "Lallu", after a meeting with the leader of the BSP legislators in the assembly, Lalji Verma.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi will contest from West Bengal, where he will be supported by the state's ruling TMC.

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had fielded Manoj Jha and Ashfaque Karim as Rajya Sabha candidates. The BSP, with 19 MLAs, needs 18 more first preference votes to ensure a smooth sail of its nominee, who has already filed his nomination, for the elections to the Upper House of Parliament.

The Congress wanted to accommodate one or two seniors in Karnataka, while Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was reportedly against giving tickets to an outsider in an election year.

Ms Pandey will be seeking her berth for the Upper House from the BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh while Mr Baluni will be party candidate from Uttarakhand. A noted lawyer, Ravindra Kumar is head of the TDP's legal cell.