While Rahul loyalists were keen that he be given the post, a leader known to be close to him said, "If he does not become the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, then he should quit politics." Renu Mittal reports.
In a surprise decision, the Congress on Monday named Mallikarjun Kharge, the former railway minister, as its leader in the Lok Sabha, ending speculation that Rahul Gandhi may take up the responsibility.
It remains to be seen whether Rahul becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Since the Congress is 10 members short of the required number, the new Speaker will take a decision on whether the Congress gets the Leader of the Opposition slot.
Kharge beat senior leaders Kamal Nath and M Veerappa Moily to bag the post simply because he is seen to be a clean, non-controversial and very senior member from the South, from where the Congress won the majority of its 44 members in the Lok Sabha.
A Dalit, Kharge was the Union railway minister in the last government. He has been a nine-term member of the legislative assembly in Karnataka, has been the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly twice, has served in numerous Congress governments in the state and is now a two-term Lok Sabha member of Parliament.
While Rahul loyalists were keen that he be given the post, a leader known to be close to him said, "If he does not become the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, then he should quit politics."
Others advised Sonia that if Rahul is given the post, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would go all out to finish him politically in the next five years, and for the moment he should focus on organisational work and on reviving the party in Maharashtra and Haryana where elections are due this year.
While Sonia has yet to name the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, eight MPs from the Rajya Sabha have resigned, with five of them being elected to the Lok Sabha, and one elected as an MLA in the Odisha assembly. The remaining two have resigned from their parties.
Apart from that, N Janardhan Reddy, a Congress Rajya Sabha MP, has passed away, and the seat will now go either to the Telugu Desam Party or the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, depending on whether the vacant seat goes to Andhra Pradesh or Telangana as per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.
Among those who have resigned are Kanwar Deep Singh (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha) -- this seat will go back to the JMM and S P Singh Baghel who resigned from the Bahujan Samaj Party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. This seat will now go to the Samajwadi Party.
Anang Uday Singh Deo (Biju Janata Dal) has been elected as an MLA, and the seat will now go to the BJD. Rajiv Pratap Rudy (BJP), Ram Kripal Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal) and Ram Vilas Paswan (Lok Janashakti Party) have been elected to the Lok Sabha, and all three seats will go to the Janata Dal-United, the ruling party in Bihar.
Faggan Singh Kulaste (BJP) has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Madhya Pradesh and the seat will go to the BJP. Lastly, Tariq Anwar (Nationalist Congress Party) has been elected to the Lok Sabha and the seat will go to the NCP in Maharashtra.