By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: With the Election Commission announcing election to one of the three vacant Rajya Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu, Congress is likely to again witness an old-versus-young tussle. The party has to choose between veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, a member of G23 letter writers, and Praveen Chakravarty, chief of the party’s data analytics cell and former party chief Rahul Gandhi’s close aide.

Discussions have started in Congress to nominate a candidate for the lone seat it is likely to get for being alliance partner in the state. There are three Rajya Sabha seats vacant in Tamil Nadu on the state’s demand, elections will be held separately.

Azad, who was leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and retired in February, has support of the DMK as joint candidate for the upper House, but some leaders close to the Gandhis have expressed reservations over him.He is among the leaders who wrote to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in August, 2020, over leadership vacuum and elections in the party. The group came under attack from close aides of the Gandhis.

Sources said that Chakravarty, who was the brain behind the party’s 2019 campaign for NYAY (minimum income guarantee) scheme, is emerging as the choice of the top leadership though a final decision is yet to be taken.

“Despite these leaders’ rebellion against top leadership, the Congress chief has heard them and accommodated them in a few committees. But sending Azad to Rajya Sabha looks difficult, especially when veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge was brought to Rajya Sabha and nominated as Leader of Opposition,” said a senior leader.

Unlike Kapil Sibal and a few other prominent and senior Congress leaders, Azad has not been vocal about organisational changes in the last few months and has been focussing on issues in Jammu and Kashmir, the state he comes from.

No smooth sailing for Azad?According to a section of Congress leaders, sending senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to Rajya Sabha looks difficult, considering that veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge has already been brought to Rajya Sabha and nominated as Leader of Opposition. Azad’s role in demanding organisational elections may also go against him, if sources are to be believed.