Talking about Rajya Sabha nominations, it’s that time of the year once in six years when everybody who is somebody thinks they are ’eminent’. That’s because at the end of August, the Rajya Sabha will have seven vacancies with the term of the nominated ’eminent persons’ coming to an end. So you have a whole lot of people dusting and dressing up their resumes to resemble ’eminent persons’. That can include loyal politicians who have played poodle to one party high command or the other, to businessmen who bankrolled them or to journalists ready to cash their reward points earned over the years.
While the party in power has to factor in all of the above, in the last two decades there’s the additional headache of having to listen to the umpteen coalition partners. Take Mamata Banerjee, for example. Having been more accommodative than the DMK, Mamata is now ready to extract her pound of flesh for being such a good girl in May. Out of the seven seats falling vacant, she wants two for her supporters. Out of the two seats in Parliament reserved for Anglo-Indians, she wants one for Derek O'Brien, the quiz master who has joined her party. Another seat she wants is for litterateur Mahasweta Devi, who has a huge following in rural West Bengal, especially among the tribals, and rallied strongly against the Left in the last election.
If all this is not enough headache, guess who is joining the ’demands’ club: president Pratibha Patil. Normally, the government of the day names the names and the president signs on the dotted line. Not this time. Word is that Rashtrapati Bhavan is putting forward two candidates for nomination. This does not happen too often but for the Congress Party this is not the first time, either. It is said Rashtrapati Bhavan placed a call to Sonia Gandhi for sending a friend of the president to Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu. Because of this request, Sonia had to send an emissary down south to seek an extra seat for the Congress.
But Congress insiders say that the party may have worked a way around the problem: It might offer a party ticket to the president's son for the forthcoming Maharashtra assembly elections and minister-ship if the party should return to power. Politics is after all the art of the possible.-BV Rao