Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is one of the senior-most leaders of the Congress. How unfortunate for the party that he may become irrelevant in the political spectrum soon enough. Manmohan Singh has been a five-time Rajya Sabha member from Assam for the last 28 years. His current six-year term is going to end on June 14th and it is speculated that he may not get a re-term.
2 seats from Assam are going to be vacant on June 14th for which elections will be held on June 7th. One of those seats is being represented by Singh and the other by Santiuse Kujur, who is also a Congress member. In this regard, since BJP has the power in the state, the Congress does not have the required members in Assam to get Manmohan Singh re-elected. BJP is considering electing LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan who is its ally in Bihar, who is not contesting the Lok Sabha elections this time.
Members of the Rajya Sabha are elected in a slightly different manner than the Lok Sabha members. Herein, members of the State Legislative Assembly elect leaders for the upper house; so, the majority party in the Legislative Assembly often dictates the state representatives to the Rajya Sabha. In the 126-member Assam Assembly, the Congress has only 25 MLAs, while the party needs first-preference votes of at least 43. Given that Assam has a BJP led government, it is unlikely that Singh will get a re-term.
Therefore, Congress is considering not nominating Singh at all. Debabrata Saikia, leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the Assam Assembly stated, “We don’t have the numbers on our own and it is not advisable to field a leader of such senior stature when our numbers are not certain.”
In order to be elected to the Rajya Sabha, Manmohan Singh now has to wait to be adjusted in the seats falling vacant after some of Congress’ Rajya Sabha members win in the general elections, if at all. If that does not work out, he may contest the Rajya Sabha elections from Tamil Nadu in July where six seats are falling vacant. That too, Congress is dependent on DMK if the party offers one of the seats to Singh. If nothing works in his favour, Manmohan Singh will have to wait till April 2020 when 55 seats in various states will fall vacant and the Congress may get some of them.
“There is still time and the situation will get clearer after the May 23 results and accordingly the party will take a decision,” said a senior Congress leader.
Congress was probably anticipating this, and that is why the party cadre including Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, state in-charge Asha Kumari and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sunil Jakhar were requesting and pleading with Manmohan Singh to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar. Amarinder Singh had told him, “All you have to do is file your nomination papers. I take full responsibility for your campaign and will run it personally. I will camp in Amritsar. Please don’t say no. Please think it over.” However, in spite of such earnest requests, Manmohan Singh had refused.
It is unfortunate that Manmohan Singh has to face this. He has been a resident of Assam and has also registered as a voter in Guwahati, voting from there during the current Lok Sabha elections. In any circumstance, whether or not Manmohan Singh can manage to wait out and be adjusted in the various seats all over the country is besides; what is certain is that he will not be elected to the upper house from Assam, which has been his abode since the past 28 years.