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Posted at: Jun 17, 2019, 6:25 AM; last updated: Jun 17, 2019, 6:26 AM (IST)

Session from today, Cong yet to name House leader

No word on LS functionaries either; Oppn parties put up divided show
Session from today, Cong yet to name House leader

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16

The Congress appeared disjointed and the larger Opposition disunited on the eve of the first Budget session of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA-2 government.

There was no word until late evening on who the Congress would appoint leader of the parliamentary party in Lok Sabha or who its house functionaries would be. “That call has to be taken by Congress Parliamentary Party leader and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi,” was the standard reply from Congress communications chief Randeep Singh Surjewala. 

Congress leaders said the appointments could happen after the conclusion of oath-taking of newly elected MPs scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, as was the case at the start of the 16th LS. BJP issued its list of House leaders three days ago.

The Congress today said a final decision on the name of the leader of LS was yet to be taken. This after speculation around names of Lok Sabha MPs K Suresh and Adhir Ranjan Choudhry the party sent to represent it in the leaders’ meeting called by the government. Suresh, a Kerala MP, is the senior-most Congress lawmaker in the Lower House with seven terms. Choudhry is a five-time MP from Bengal. Seniority, though, is not an essential criterion for Congress appointments. The party had appointed Mallikarjun Kharge as LS leader in 2014, ignoring Kamal Nath, then the senior-most MP.

It also remains to be seen if Congress will continue with Ghulam Nabi Azad as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha or replace him.

The party found itself in another spot today after the PM invited party chiefs for a meeting on “one nation, one election” on Wednesday, followed by a dinner with MPs a day later. “We don’t know who will attend these meetings. The status of Congress president Rahul Gandhi remains unknown. May be someone will be designated to attend PM’s meeting,” said a Congress MP. 

Meanwhile, much-anticipated meeting of Opposition parties was not held today, neither was any meeting planned. Even in the meeting of party leaders with the government, there was no coordination between Opposition leaders on agenda setting. While TMC sought debate on return to ballot papers, Congress was silent on the matter.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, however, said there was enough time for Opposition parties to meet and coordinate their strategy in Parliament.

RAHUL in london, unclear when he’ll return

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is learnt to be in London and it’s unclear when he will return and whether he will be in time for taking oath as a new Lok Sabha MP. Rahul also turns 49 this June 19 with leaders not sure about where he would like to celebrate his birthday.

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