‘G23’ dissenters back in Congress' House rejig

  • Some of these leaders who were part of the ‘G-23’ group of letter writers have been given key roles in the parliamentary hierarchy
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Manish Tewari. (PTI Photo)
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Manish Tewari. (PTI Photo)
Updated on Jul 19, 2021 05:46 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

In a major rejig ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament that is scheduled to begin on Monday, the Congress has reconstituted and expanded its parliamentary groups in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, bringing in senior faces such as former Union ministers P Chidambaram, Manish Tewari and Ambika Soni, and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh.

The announcement came on Sunday by way of a letter by party president Sonia Gandhi. In that she wrote that the reshuffle has been done for the effective functioning of the party in both houses of Parliament. “These groups will meet daily during the session and can meet during the inter-session periods as well where Parliament issues are concerned,” the Congress president wrote.

After two curtailed sessions, there is expectation that the monsoon session will be a full one, and there is every indication that it will be stormy too, with the opposition likely to corner the government on the economy, the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccinations, job losses and the contentious farm laws.

The letter has also ended speculation about the role of West Bengal MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who, it was thought, will be replaced by either Shashi Tharoor or Manish Tewari.

The letter states that Chowdhury will continue as the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, but Tharoor and Tewari will be in the group too, which only underlines that Sonia Gandhi wants more heads in the party’s parliamentary decision-making process.

The Lok Sabha group will also have Assam MP Gaurav Gogoi (deputy leader), K Suresh (chief whip), Ravneet Singh Bittu and Manickam Tagore (both whips).

The Rajya Sabha hierarchy, which earlier had Mallikarjun Kharge as the leader of the opposition, Anand Sharma (deputy leader) and Jairam Ramesh (chief whip), will now include Chidambaram, Soni and Singh—the three senior leaders with years of experience in Parliament as well as party.

The groups will have various roles. Mustering numbers, coordinating with various political parties, and deciding on key floor issues such as support for a bill or the extent of cooperation with the government.

It will also decide which issue needs to be raised and how the Congress will manoeuvre on issues raised by other parties.

Only last week, Congress had entrusted Kharge with the responsibility of coordination with other parties in Parliament. He is expected to play the key role in Parliament as lack of opposition unity has proved to be an advantage for the ruling dispensation in passing key bills such as on Triple Talaq, bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir as Union territories, and the scrapping of Article 370.

With the inclusion of senior, more accessible leaders, the party hopes to mend fissures within the opposition camp with a few regional parties trying to go it all alone in the forthcoming state elections and the 2024 general elections.

The Congress already has two panels — the parliamentary strategy group headed by Gandhi to look into the larger issues relating to parliamentary functioning, and a smaller group headed by P Chidambaram to carefully scrutinise all government bills.

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Saturday, May 28, 2022