With SP nod, 9-time MLA Tiwari is Cong RS nominee

In a surprise move, the ruling Samajwadi Party did not name any candidate for the second vacant Rajya Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh, allowing Congress to field its nine-time MLA from Rampur Khas Pramod Tiwari as party candidate on Tuesday —- the the last date for filing of nomination papers.

Tiwari and SP candidate Kanaklata Singh are the only two nominations for the two vacant posts and will be elected unopposed. The two seats fell vacant following death of senior SP leader Mohan Singh and disqualification of former Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rasheed Masood.

The sudden turn of events have become significant as SP's likely support to Congress candidate comes at a time when leaders of both the parties are condemning each other during their campaigns for Lok Sabha election. It also comes at a time when SP is busy wooing Muslims after Muzaffarnagar violence and Congress is trying to focus on retaining its existing Lok Sabha seats after its poor performance in recent Assembly elections in three states and Delhi.

It is, however, not for the first time that SP has supported a Congress candidate for Rajya Sabha. In 2008, Mohd Adib Khan was jointly fielded by Congress and SP and was elected unopposed. However, Adib had filed his nomination papers as independent candidate and Tiwari has been given symbol of Congress to contest. "I am thankful to everyone for trusting me. I had decided that I would only contest if Congress gives me the symbol and announces my name," said Tiwari.

According to sources in the party, Congress high command was told Monday evening that SP would support only Tiwari's candidature. After long discussions in Delhi, it was around 12:30 pm on Tuesday that Tiwari was told that he would be given party symbol to contest. He later filed his nomination in the presence of state Congress chief Nirmal Khatri, Congress Legislature Party leader Pradeep Mathur and other senior party leaders.

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