Why Congress Chose Rajasthan For Sonia Gandhi’s Debut In Rajya Sabha?

Former Congress President Sonia Gandhi is succeeding former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s seat in the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan, who is retiring at the end of his term.


Photo: Tabeenah Anjum
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in Rajasthan to file nomination for Rajya Sabha elections. Photo: Tabeenah Anjum

Five years after the Congress party relied on Rajasthan to ensure a safe seat for former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha, the grand old party on Wednesday once again banked on the desert state to ensure that former party president Sonia Gandhi’s debut to the upper house happens without any hindrance.

Sonia, 77, will be succeeding Singh, who is retiring from Rajya Sabha. In 2019,  Singh was elected unopposed as a member of the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan. The seat had fallen vacant after the death of BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Madan Lal Saini, who was also the party’s state president.


AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi accompanied Gandhi, who filed her nomination in Jaipur on Wednesday. Former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot received them at the airport and later the Congress sitting MLAs met her. In Assembly polls 2023, Congress managed 70 seats whereas the BJP managed 115 and formed government in the state.

Why Is Rajasthan A Safe Bet For Congress?

Rajasthan has a total of 10 Rajya Sabha seats. Of these 10 seats, Congress is holding six. Five of these Rajya Sabha members are party leaders from other states: Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal, AICC General Secretary Mukul Vasnik, Randeep Singh Surjewala, and senior leader Pramod Tiwari and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Niraj Dangi is the only Rajya Sabha MP from the state belonging to the state.


The tenure of three Rajya Sabha seats held by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be completed next month.

According to a senior Congress leader, the high command considered Rajasthan as the safest place to send Sonia Gandhi to the Rajya Sabha after seeing the previous record of successfully managing its leaders to reach the upper berth from the desert state.

“In 2022, the Congress in Rajasthan had a tough situation when Independent candidate Subhash Chandra with the support of BJP had contested but lost. The then Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot smoothly managed to send Mukul Vasnik, Randeep Singh Surjewala, and Pramod Tiwari to the upper house from Rajasthan,” says this senior Congress leader.

When asked if other states too were considered for Sonia’s maiden entry in the upper house, another party source told Outlook: “One of the major reasons for All India Congress Committee for choosing Rajasthan over Himachal Pradesh were the numbers of the Congress MLAs and to ensure that BJP could not play a spoilsport.”

By choosing Rajasthan —the largest state geographically with borders with five states— instead of a southern state, the party has also managed to send a message across that the Hindi heartland is important.

As per the Congress party sources, Sonia, a five-time Lok Sabha MP, is moving to Rajya Sabha mainly due to health reasons. In 2019, after contesting from Rae Bareli, Sonia had indicated that this would be her last electoral innings. However, it is yet to be seen if Rae Bareli could be a seat for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to make her electoral debut. 


Currently, the Rajya Sabha has a strength of 245 members. Out of the total 245 members, 233 are representatives of the States and Union Territories and 12 are nominated by the President.

The Election Commission has scheduled the Rajya Sabha elections for 15 states for February 27. The deadline for nominations is set for February 15. The results of the elections will be announced on February 27.