Sonia elected CPP chairperson
Tara Shankar Sahay in Delhi
Congress president Sonia Gandhi was this evening unanimously elected Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson.
Addressing the media, party spokesman V N Gadgil said Sonia's name was proposed by former Congress president Sitaram Kesri and seconded by senior party leader Sharad Pawar.
Gadgil said the CPP amended its constitution, making the party chief its ex-officio member. This paved the way for the election of Sonia, who is not a member of either House, to the top post.
Asked why the party had delayed the appointment of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha floor leaders, Gadgil said he would announce the names as soon as they were known.
However, a senior Congress leader told Rediff On The NeT that Pawar is likely to become the party's floor leader in the Lok Sabha. ''However, Sonia has not made up her mind regarding the Rajya Sabha post.''
Gadgil also released a media statement issued by senior leader Oscar Fernandes.
Stressing the importance of unity among secular parties in view of the BJP being invited to form a government, the statement said that Sonia had appointed a co-ordination committee -- comprising Arjun Singh, Sharad Pawar, Kotla Vijayabhaskara Reddy, Pranab Mukherjee and Dr Manmohan Singh -- to achieve the objective.
Addressing MPs after her election, Sonia said the partymen should go back to the grassroots to regain the people's confidence.
''We must unite in the face of the political challenges that lie ahead,'' she said. ''These challenges will only multiply and test our determination to meet them. If the party is able to resolve these, the party would emerge triumphant.
''In the meanwhile, the party has the responsibility for being vigilant on behalf of the people to ensure that the new government does not betray their interests. We will offer constructive and responsive cooperation for those policies and programmes which our party considers to be in our country's interest.
''The fight against communalism and casteism would continue and the party should work hard to preserve and protect secularism,'' she said.
Sonia said it was difficult to guess how long a BJP government would last.
Asked if she would contest the election, she said, ''I cannot say now.''
Additional reportage: UNI
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