Sonia Gandhi names leaders in Parliament; Ghulam Nabi Azad retains spot
The decisions 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.Updated: Aug 27, 2020, 22:52 IST
The Congress on Thursday named Gaurav Gogoi its deputy leader in the Lok Sabha and also formed two groups for smooth functioning and effective coordination in both the 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 in-charge of organisation KC Venugopal and former union minister Jairam Ramesh.
Azad and Sharma are among the 23 leaders who wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi seeking a complete overhaul of the organisation and a full-time party chief.
The other prominent leaders among the dissenters are Mukul Wasnik, Kapil Sibal, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithiviraj Chavan, Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor and Jitin Prasada.
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.
The appointments came ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament beginning 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 appointments 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.
But Thursday’s decisions have caused heartburn among the dissenters. One of the dissenters said on the condition of anonymity that the leadership has ignored two former union ministers and “serious claimants” Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor for the deputy leader’s post in the Lok Sabha and also not included them in the panel.
Similarly, he said including a senior leader such as Patel and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi loyalist Venugopal in the panel for the Rajya Sabha is a clear signal that the leadership 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.
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 consisted of former union minister P Chidambaram, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh and member from Punjab Amar Singh. Ramesh will be its convener.