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Rahul Gandhi's band of generals

July 27, 2015 11:32 IST

A look at the team behind the Congress' aggressive stance.

A more aggressive and combative Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has been at the forefront of the Opposition attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

Gandhi, insiders say, has been clear that the party will not relent its hard stand of "no discussion without resignation". So it came as little surprise that he publicly accused External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of "criminality" punishable with a jail term.

When MP Shashi Tharoor, at a closed door meeting, suggested discussion as a more practical route, with the party not insisting on resignations, Gandhi categorically said, "Not instead of disruptions". Charting the strategy, Gandhi said the public must be informed about the reason behind the Congress' obstruction of Parliament and protest must happen outside and inside the House. He recounted how he found during his visit to Rajasthan, people there were not aware why the party had dug in its heels and was stalling Parliament.

A look at the team behind the Congress' aggressive stance:

Jyotiraditya Scindia: The chief whip of the party in the Lok Sabha, he takes the lead in interjecting and questioning the government and provides able support to Leader of the party Mallikarjun Kharge. In-charge of floor management and coordination for the party, a crucial role since it is hampered with a poor bench strength of 44; he was tasked with reaching out to like-minded Opposition parties in the House for an informal discussion with Rahul Gandhi and Kharge.The former Union minister more than makes up for the total absence of Deputy Leader of the party, Captain Amarinder Singh, in the House with his active involvement in affairs of the House.

Deepinder Hooda: One among those designated as the "young guns", Hooda has earned his stripes as the designated party whip according to observers with his very active role. An MBA by training, due to his interest in law he has been tasked with challenging the government on House rules and procedures. Along with Scindia, he met Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, pointing out how it was against rules to permit the privilege notice against Robert Vadra. Hooda is also responsible for legislation and Bill-related discussions, be it on the Land Bill, Goods and Services Tax Bill, etc, deciding speakers from among party members and interjecting government discussions with inputs on these matters 

Gaurav Gogoi: Educated and vocal, Gogoi is seen in the forefront of the Congress protests in the Well of the House and instrumental to the disruptive tactics of the party. Being one the few young Congress MPs who are bilingual, the first-time MP has also been designated spokesperson of the party.

Sushmita Dev: The active first-time MP has been noticeable for her articulate stand both within and outside Parliament. Like fellow Assamese Gaurav Gogoi, she enjoys the trust of Rahul Gandhi. In a party which is short on numbers, Sushmita's 'lung power' in Parliament is even recognised by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. She was engaged in a war of words with Trinamool Congress' Kalyan Banerjee, questioning why his party was not participating in Opposition protests on the LalitGate and Vyapam scam.

KC Venugopal: Designated whip along with Hooda, Venugopal takes care of all discussions on the non-legislative agenda, be it selecting speakers for Budget-related matters or on current issues like the agrarian crisis. An experienced politician, he has been both Union and state minister, in his home state of Kerala.

Rajeev Satav: The former Youth Congress president is a long-time trusted aide of Rahul Gandhi. Not only is Satav relied upon by the party to be at the front of vocal attacks on the government in the Lok Sabha, but is occasionally deputed to reach out to opposition parties as well.

Kavita Chowdhury in New Delhi
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