The first and only choice, top sources say, was V Kishore Chandra Deo from Andhra Pradesh. Sources say Deo's rivals from Andhra Pradesh plotted his downfall -- the prime conspirator being former chief minister Nedrumalli Janardhan Reddy, who is known as 'Chanakya' in state political circles. A member in the 14th Lok Sabha, Reddy is a Rajya Sabha MP now.
In fact, the 62-year-old Deo's name was cleared as early as on May 16 -- the day results were declared -- by no less than Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Then, came the twist. Reddy sent a two-page letter to Sonia, describing some "dubious details' about Deo -- who is popularly called VKC -- during his chief ministership.
Warning such a move will dent the Congress's image, the former CM, sources say, urged Sonia to reconsider Deo's candidacy. Reddy is said to have written that Doe may be forced to resign if the "Opposition unearths old dubious deals".
Panicked, Sonia discussed the matter with top party leaders and decided not to go ahead with Deo's nomination.
It was at this stage that Sonia applied her mind, making Meira Kumar the party's choice, sources said. Other party leaders agreed and the prime minister rang up Opposition leader L K Advani on Saturday night, seeking Meira Kumar's unanimous election.
Sources also ask had Meira Kumar been the original choice, then why she was asked to swear in as the water resources minister. Her name, sources said, was propped up only on May 30 when Deo's name was dropped.
Deo, who was a Cabinet minister in the Charan Singh government, was taken aback when he got a call from 10 Janpath on Saturday, breaking news about Meira Kumar's candidacy.
He, however, refused to comment when top leaders, including Advani, asked him why he was shown the door by the Congress in the last minute.
Advani had a praise of word for Deo for the way he conducted himself as the privilege committee chairman in the last Lok Sabha.
"You would have made the best Speaker. You could have controlled the House like Somnath Chatterjee," Advani has reportdely told Deo.