Congress names Gaurav Gogoi deputy leader in Lok Sabha in party rejig
The Congress on Thursday named Gaurav Gogoi its deputy leader in the Lok Sabha and formed two groups for smooth and effective coordination with lawmakers in both houses of Parliament, according to people familiar with the development.
Lok Sabha member from Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu was also named as one of the whips of the party in the Lok Sabha.
The group for the Rajya Sabha comprises Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, deputy leader Anand Sharma, party treasurer Ahmed Patel, general secretary incharge of organisation KC Venugopal, and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh, who has also been named the chief whip in the Upper House.
Azad and Sharma are among the 23 leaders who wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, seeking, among other things, a complete overhaul of the organisation and a full-time party chief.
Apart from Gogoi and Bittu, the group for the Lok Sabha will have Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, K Suresh and Manickam Tagore as its members. While Choudhary is the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Suresh is the chief whip, and Tagore and Bittu are the whips.
Thursday’s decisions appear to have caused unease among the dissenters. One of the leaders, who asked not to be named, said that the move ignores two former Union ministers and “serious claimants” Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor for the deputy leader’s post in the Lok Sabha, who have also not been included in the panel.
Similarly, he said including a senior leader such as Patel and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s loyalist Venugopal in the panel for the Rajya Sabha is a clear signal that the leadership has “diluted the powers” of Azad and Sharma, and wants to “keep a check” on those who wrote the letter to Sonia Gandhi.
“They should have included Kapil Sibal in the Rajya Sabha group,” said the leader quoted above.
The other prominent leaders among the dissenters are Mukul Wasnik, Kapil Sibal, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithiviraj Chavan, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and Jitin Prasada.
The appointments came ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament that is set to begin on September 14, and are an attempt by the Congress to strengthen its team of floor leaders in both the Houses.
The deputy leader’s post had been lying vacant in the 16th Lok Sabha. Even in the 15th Lok Sabha, the party had not named any deputy leader after Captain Amarinder Singh took over as Punjab chief minister in 2017.
The decisions also came three days after the stormy Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting that asked Sonia Gandhi to stay on as the party chief till a new president is elected.
The CWC members also came down heavily on the 23 dissenters who had written the letter to Gandhi.
On Wednesday, Sonia Gandhi had constituted a five-member committee to discuss and formulate the party’s stands on key ordinances promulgated by the central government.
Apart from Ramesh and Gogoi, the panel comprised of former Union minister P Chidambaram, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh and member from Punjab Amar Singh. Ramesh will be its convener.