Will Rahul be Leader of House in LS? Sonia's Re-election as Head of Cong MPs May Have Answer
The suspense now is over who will be the leader of the party in Parliament. As the leader of the CPP, Sonia has the authority to appoint leaders in both the houses.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and CPP chairperson Sonia Gandhi meet the newly-elected party MPs in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)
New Delhi: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's re-election as Congress Parliamentary Party leader on Saturday may have opened more options for party president Rahul, even as he offered to quit after Lok Sabha poll debacle.
After former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed Sonia's name, all 52 lawmakers of the Congress from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elected her as their chairperson. The suspense now is over who will be the leader of the party in Parliament. As the leader of the CPP, Sonia has the authority to appoint leaders in both the houses. This right was given to the chairperson after amending the party constitution in 2004.
Since the Indira Gandhi era, the party president has played second fiddle to the person occupying the top seat in the government. While the tussle was settled in favour of the former during the tenures of Nehru to the Rajiv Gandhi era, it fell to Sonia Gandhi to reverse the equation in 1998 when she took over as party chief.
Her party managers worked on a strategy to ensure that she had the authority to appoint the leader of the House in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha even though she was not even an MP. Pranab Mukherjee, who had been a man of all seasons, had offered a remedy to ensure Sonia’s authority over the parliamentary wing continued undiluted even though a new leader was elected as the CPP leader.
In May 2004, Sonia had appointed two leaders as CPP leaders in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. She had named Manmohan Singh as leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha and Mukherjee as leader of the House in the Lok Sabha. Singh was, by then, sworn as prime minister too.
Under the CPP constitution, its leader’s post was the highest but Clause 5 of the party constitution was amended to create the chairperson’s post. Under sub-clause ‘C,’ the chairperson and not the CPP leader would nominate the party leaders in both houses as well as the deputy leaders and chief whips. The amended clause now reads: “The chairperson shall have the authority to name the leader of the CPP to head the government, if necessary.”
So, Sonia, as CPP chairperson, can nominate Rahul as leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, a post that was held by Mallikarjuna Kharge in the 16th Lok Sabha. Kharge, however, lost the election from Karnataka's Gulbarga for the first time.
Even though the number of party lawmakers in the Lower House is higher than that in 2014, the Congress is still short of three members to qualify for the post of Leader of Opposition.
This is the first official meeting that Rahul attended after the meeting of the party's working committee held on May 25, where he offered to resign as Congress chief.
"Rahul Gandhi thanked the voters and Congress workers. He says, ‘every Congress member must remember that each one of you is fighting for the Constitution, for every person in India irrespective of the colour of his skin or belief’," Surjewala quoted him as saying.
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