The Congress today named senior West Bengal leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury its leader in Lok Sabha, after failing to convince Rahul Gandhi to take up the post. At the long-pending strategy session this morning – where Mr Gandhi and his mother UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were present – the matter was discussed. A letter has been written to Lok Sabha, saying Mr Chowdhury would be the leader of the single largest party from the opposition and represent it at all important selection committees.
The party also focused on tomorrow’s meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss his “One nation one election” idea. The Congress has so far opposed it, arguing against it from practical, logistical and legal angles.
The question of a Lok Sabha leader opened up after the party’s senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge lost the election. But the Congress was soft-pedalling on the issue as it wanted Rahul Gandhi for the position.
But Mr Gandhi, since the party’s rout in the national election, has been insistent on giving up the party chief’s post. The party has refused to accept it and there has been an impasse for weeks.
With the Lok Sabha being convened yesterday, the party today opted for an alternative.
Along with Adhir Chowdhury, Kerala leader K Suresh, party spokesperson Manish Tewari and Thiruvanathapuram lawmaker Shashi Tharoor were reportedly in the running for the post.
But Mr Chowdhury – a five-time member of the Lok Sabha – was chosen in view of his long experience in the parliament and the party.
At today’s meeting, the party also discussed the selection of the Lok Sabha Speaker and decided not to oppose the NDA choice – Rajasthan lawmaker Om Birla, who is from the BJP.
Over the last two days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached out to the opposition, emphasizing that it has a huge role in democracy irrespective of numbers.