New Delhi: The opposition Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi yesterday (Thursday) named former Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh as the deputy leader of the party in the Lok Sabha.
The move is being seen as a balancing act after Sonia, who was earlier elected chairperson of the Congress parliamentary party and authorised to name office bearers, after she had named former railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge as leader of the party in the Lok Sabha.
The logic given behind naming Kharge as the party leader was that a south Indian leader deserved the post considering the party won most of its 44 seats in the recent parliamentary polls from the south.
What, however, has surprised party leaders is ignoring claims of Kamal Nath, who is the senior most lawmaker in the 16th Lok Sabha. He is currently functioning as protem speaker and will hold the post till the new speaker is elected later today (Friday).
Kamal Nath who worked as the parliamentary affairs minister in the previous Congress party-led government had made no bones about his desire to lead the party in the house it became clear that neither Sonia nor her son Rahul Gandhi were keen on taking up the responsibility.
Interestingly both Kharge and Singh are 72 and are serving their second terms in the Lok Sabha. Singh has returned to the Lok Sabha after a gap of three decades when he resigned from both Lok Sabha and the Congress party in protest against the Operation Blue Star ordered by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi to flush out Sikh terrorists from Amritsar’s Golden Temple.
Kamal Nath on the other hand has vast parliamentary experience having been elected ninth time ever since he was first elected in 1980.
While Sonia opted for septuagenarians for the top two posts in the Lok Sabha, the floor management was left in the hands of younger generation Jyotiraditya Scindia, 43, who was named chief whip of the party.
Scindia will be assisted by the lone Congress party MP from Haryana Deepender Singh Hooda, 36, and former federal minister K.V. Venugopal, 51.
The widespread feeling in the Congress party is that Sonia did not want to expose her son Rahul Gandhi’s lack of parliamentary and oratory skills by desisting from naming him leader of the party. Many though feel that it was the best chance for Rahul, serving his third straight term as a lawmaker, to get firsthand experience and be prepared to challenge prime minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 general elections.