NEW DELHI: With the Election Commission announcing election to one of the three vacant Rajya Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu, the Congress is likely to again witness an old versus young tussle with the party having to choose between veteran party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, a member of G23 letter writers, and Praveen Chakravarty, chief of party’s data analytics cell and former party chief Rahul Gandhi’s close aide.
Discussions have started in the Congress to nominate a party candidate for the lone seat it is likely to get as part of an alliance partner in the state. There are three Rajya Sabha seats vacant in the state and on the state’s demand elections will be held separately.
Azad, who was the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha and retired in Feb 2021, has the support of the DMK as a joint candidate for the upper house from Tamil Nadu but some leaders close to Gandhis have expressed their reservations over his candidature.
He is among the party leaders who wrote to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in August 2020 over leadership vacuum and organization elections in the party. The group came under attack from close aides of Gandhis while early this year Congress chief met them and assured them to address their concerns.
Sources said that Chakravarty, who was the brain behind the Congress’s 2019 campaign for NYAY (minimum income guarantee) scheme, is emerging as the choice of the top leadership though a final decision is yet to be taken.
“Despite these leaders' (G23) rebellion against top leadership, the Congress chief has heard them and accommodated them in a few committees. But, sending Azad to Rajya Sabha again looks difficult, especially when veteran party leader Mallikarjun Kharge was brought to Rajya Sabha and nominated as Leader of Opposition,” said a senior party leader.
Unlike Kapil Sibal, Azad has not been vocal about organisational changes in the party in the last few months and has been focussing on issues in Jammu and Kashmir.