Rahul Gandhi approves 12 names for Rajya Sabha polls

Congress secures allies for Rajya Sabha polls aims to challenge BJP-led NDA in 2019 elections

Biennial elections are being held for 58 Rajya Sabha seats across several states and by-poll for one in Kerala. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) has announced the names of party's general secretary J Santosh Kumar, B Lingaiah Yadav and B Prakash in Telangana. Veerendra Kumar's term would have expired in April 2022.

There had been some differences between Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and the Congress high command as far as nomination of Sam Pitroda was concerned.

Prominent leaders like GVL Narshima Rao who is the party's spokesperson and Anil Jain, National General Secretary of BJP will contest from Uttar Pradesh along with Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam and Harnath Singh Yadav. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is trying to get the Shiv Sena's additional votes for the BJP's fourth candidate, Vijaya Rah-atkar.

The last date for withdrawal of candidature is 15 March. "This would help us win the third seat as well", said deputy chief minister Nitin Patel.

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Six seats are up for grabs in Maharashtra, whose House strength of 288 has been depleted by death and illness, leaving 41 votes as the winning number.

The ruling BJP is set to increase its tally from Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha and also in the state Legislative Council, given its improved strength in the 288-member Legislative Assembly post the 2014 polls. Both the parties are in a position to send two candidates each to the Rajya Sabha.

While Mandavia and Rupala are official BJP nominees, the Congress has fielded Amiben Yagnik and tribal leader Naran Rathwa.

BJP has also made a decision to field Rajeev Chandrasekhar as party nominee from Karnataka while U Sameer will be saffron party candidate from Jharkhand.

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The BJP said Valera's action revealed the "infighting" within the Congress party. BJP leaders have claimed that Ms Rahatkar is a dummy candidate and has been asked to file her nomination only as a precautionary measure.

The opposition party is backing independent candidate P.

The TRS is expected to file nominations for all three seats and win them.

Kirori Lal Meena and Madan Lal Saini have been named to contest from Rajasthan. In fact, the Congress had won 21 MLAs in 2014 elections of which 9 MLAs defected to the TRS.

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Lt. Gen (Retd.) DP Vats has been nominated from Haryana.

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