Mallikarjun Kharge to remain Opposition leader, Congress U-turn: sources – Flying Journals

New Delhi:

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge is likely to stay on as opposition leader for the Rajya Sabha, breaking a key rule as the party has yet to decide to succeed him in parliament.

If Mr Kharge holds two positions, it would be a complete reversal of the “one person, one role” policy emphasized by Rahul Gandhi when Ashok Gehlot wanted to hold a dual role.

Sonia Gandhi is calling a meeting of the Congress party’s “strategy group” tomorrow. Only Mr Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and KC Venugopal were called to the meeting by Rajya Sabha, sources said.

Sources said Digvijaya Singh and P Chidambaram were seen as front-runners to succeed Mr Kharge at the Rajya Sabha but were not invited to the meeting.

Mr Kharge resigned as leader of the opposition party in the Rajya Sabha ahead of the submission of the nomination papers for Congress president, but sources said he was likely to remain in the role, at least for the winter session of parliament.

The party is likely to reshuffle the Congressional party after the short-term session, sources said.

In addition to Mr Kharge, there are two “exceptions” to Congress’ policy. The Lok Sabha’s opposition leader, Adhiranjan Choudhary, is also the party’s Bangladeshi president. Jairam Ramesh is both chief whip of the Rajya Sabha and head of the Congress Communications Department.

In September, Rahul Gandhi had asserted that Congress would stand firm on the policies it had promised during its February meeting in Udaipur.

His message was for Ashok Gehlot, who, as the Gandhi family’s first choice for Congress president at the time, had been reluctant to give up the position of chief minister of Rajasthan. MPs close to him refused to even attend the meeting, in a rare show of defiance, against Mr Gehlot being replaced in Rajasthan by his rival Sachin Pilot should he hold state office.

Mr Gehlot was eventually ousted and Mr Kharge was put in as an “official” candidate for the October Congress Party presidential ballot. It now appears Congress will need to make an exception for Mr Kharge after all.

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