As Senior leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad inches closer to his retirement from the Upper house of the Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Congress is busy deciding who will take his place as the Leader of Opposition.
With Azad's term ending on February 15, the national party is still in two minds as to who will be a suitable candidate for the position.
Ghulam Nabi Azad has been the Congress’s face in the Rajya Sabha for more than two decades.
The Congress leaders in the reckoning for the next Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha include Anand Sharma, Mallikarjun Kharge, P Chidambaram and Digvijaya Singh.
A report by Livehindustan noted that former finance minister P Chidambaram and former Railway minister Mallikarjun Khadge who has been the party's voice on many issues in the Lok Sabha are the frontrunners.
However, Chidambaram’s inability to speak Hindi well may stop the Congress party from choosing him as LoP.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal are the other senior leaders who might be considered for the post, but they have raised their voice in the past suggesting an overhaul of the party and that could be an issue, Livehindustan reported.
However, like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma is a G-23 member of the Congress, and this may work against him.
There are also conjectures that the Congress party might be in line to bring Azad back to the Upper House. A party named who did not wish to be named told Hindustan Times that Azad could be nominated from Kerala in April when three members from the state retire.
Meanwhile, Azad delivered his farewell speech in the house amid the budget session whereby he proclaimed that he is proud to be an Indian Muslim.
"If any Muslim should feel proud in the world, it should be the Indian Muslim. Over the years, we have seen how Muslim countries from Afghanistan to Iraq getting destroyed. There are no Hindus or Christians there, they are fighting amongst themselves," the emotional senior Congress leader stated.
Recounting his experience as the Leader of Opposition, Azad said that people will keep their trust in the lawmakers till the time they do work for them and pass laws. “If we only keep on fighting amongst ourselves, we will lose the trust of people,” he said.
Speaking on the need to rule without any biases, Azad added that he would be ashamed to work with any political worker who “works on the basis of religion or community or even party”.
PM Modi went on to say that the person who will replace Azad as Leader of Opposition "will have difficulty matching his work because he was not only concerned about his party but also about the country and the House".
The Prime Minister further went on to say that during the coronavirus pandemic, it was Azad who had proposed to call an all-party meet to fight the crisis as one nation.
“As a leader of the opposition, it’s easy to engage in party politics, but Ghulam Nabi Azad ji rose above this and always prioritized the prosperity of country first,” the PM was quoted saying.