Union Minister for Environment Jairam Ramesh, already in deep trouble over his comments on the home ministry, is running into stiff resistance to his nomination to the Rajya Sabha for a second term from Andhra Pradesh.
Ramesh, who was elected to Upper House of Parliament in June 2004, is on the verge of completing his term. Six RS seats in the state are going to the polls on June 14.
Though resentment against nomination of outsiders (Jairam Ramesh originally belongs to Karnataka) to the Rajya Sabha from AP's quota was brewing for quite some time, his public outburst against the "alarmist policy" of the home ministry vis-à-vis the Chinese investments, has come as a golden opportunity for his detractors.
Sources said a delegation of senior party leaders would meet Sonia Gandhi, pleading only the local leaders should be given RS tickets.
While the Congress won all the 6 seats (one was given to CPI-M) in 2004 on the basis of its overwhelming majority in the Assembly, this time it can win only four seats as its strength has come down to 156. It will need the help from ally, the MIM, to ensure a comfortable win. The other two seats will be wrested by the main opposition Telugu Desam.
While the detractors of Ramesh in the state were happy over his latest discomfiture, their main grouse is not his frequent confrontations with cabinet colleagues and other party leaders.
The critics, seeking anonymity, alleged that Ramesh had not done any thing for the state, even in the areas which come under his purview. Lack of faster environmental clearances to major irrigation projects of Andhra Pradesh, not helping the Congress leaders on the issues like fish industry in Kolleru Lake area and iron ore mining in Anantapur are some of the issue on which Ramesh was facing anger from a section of the party. Those opposing Ramesh include the loyalists of former chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. They are angry with Jairam Ramesh that he did not attend YSR's funeral and now his ministry was sitting over a proposal to build a memorial for YSR in the reserve forest area of Nallamalla where YSR's helicopter had crashed.
Adding to the difficulties of Jairam Ramesh or any other aspirant from outside is the fact that number of seats was few and aspirants more. Of the retiring members, V Hanumanth Rao (BC) and J D Seelam (SC) were lobbying for second term.
A Narendra, former MP of BJP and then TRS was brought in to Congress before last elections with the promise of a Rajya Sabha seat and he wants the party to fulfil it. Efforts are on to send another retiring member former chief minister N Janardhan Reddy as governor of Rajasthan or some other state. State Congress president D Srinivas, who lost assembly polls, is also an aspirant.
Nomination of outsiders has always touched a raw nerve among the local leaders. The state Muslim Congress leaders were unhappy when Rashid Alvi from Uttar Pradesh was preferred over them and was sent to Rajya Sabha from second time in 2006.
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, who was trying for a Rajya Sabha berth from Haryana, is also in trouble. However, it is learnt that he may not be getting the lone Congress seat from the state.
Sharma has now turned to Rajasthan and Maharashtra and is learnt to have approached the two chief ministers of the states for an adjustment.
Congress sources say Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is finding it politically difficult to accommodate the Union minister since the Congress did not get a majority in the state and had to cobble a working majority in the government.
The argument being advanced is the state would need to nurture leaders for the future and Rajya Sabha is one way of correcting the caste imbalances as well as bring in leaders to delhi who would be useful for the state, and Anand Sharma according to senior leaders does not fit into any of these categories.
With inputs from Renu Mittal