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The ruling Congress in Karnataka on Sunday threw up a surprise leaving out battle hardened veterans and finalising the names of AICC spokesman Dr Syed Nasir Hussain, Dalit poet L. Hanumanthaiah and Vokkaliga leader G.C. Chandrasekhar-all considered new faces-for the three Rajya Sabha seats it can win in the March 23 polls.

Elections will be held for the three seats on March 23, if the Congress does not withdraw its candidate P. Balaram Naik from the contest. The party cleared the names of Amee Yagnik and former Union minister Naranbhai Ratwa from Gujarat, Dhiraj Prasad Sahu from Jharkhand, and Rajmani Patel from Madhya Pradesh. With its depleted strength of 47 MLAs in the UP Assembly, the SP can get only one member elected to Rajya Sabha.

Rane had met BJP chief Amit Shah in Delhi last week along with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadanvis.

Prominent names in the list include Konkan strongman Narayan Rane (Maharashtra), who quit Congress previous year, Kirori Lal Meena (Rajasthan), BJP's prominent TV-face GVL Narasimha Rao (Uttar Pradesh), National General Secretary Anil Jain (UP) and national media coordinator Anil Baluni (Uttarakhand). The BJP has so far only announced the name of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley from Uttar Pradesh for the polls.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party in consultation with the State MLAs, said CLP leader Ajay Kumar Lallu. It is said the state Congress unit was of the view that representation for "outsiders" could present the opposition parties with an issue to attack Congress by invoking the sentiments of "Kannadiga pride". The last date for filing of nomination papers is Monday. TRS president and chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, announced on Sunday the names of Joginapalli Santosh Kumar, Badugula Lingaiah Yadav and Banda Prakash Mudiraj as candidates.

Arithmetically for the Bahujan Samaj Party, which has 19 MLAs in the 403-member UP Assembly, the likely support by the Samajwadi Party which has 10 additional first preference votes, the Congress (seven) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (one), will help it get 37 votes required for a win.