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CWC Recommends Rahul Gandhi to Take over as LOP

CWC Recommends Rahul Gandhi to Take over as LOP

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 8: The extended Congress Working Committee has recommended Mr Rahul Gandhi to be elected the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and re-election of Ms Sonia Gandhi as the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary party.

It will be the first time in the Narendra Modi era that the Congress has earned the status of being a recognised opposition party and the leader of the opposition the status equivalent to a cabinet minister. In both 2014 and 2019 elections, no opposition party could secure more than 54 seats in the Lok Sabha to get the status of the leader of the opposition. Mr Adhir Ranjan Choudhury was functioning only as the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha though he was accommodated in the Parliamentary committees reserved for the Leader of the Opposition (LOP).

After cementing its pivotal role in anti-BJP national politics by securing 99 seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the top leadership of Congress on Saturday passed a one-line resolution to make Rahul Gandhi the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha at the meeting of the party’s working committee. The extended meeting of the party’s top decision-making body — the Congress Working Committee (CWC) — was held at Hotel Ashok in New Delhi. Mr Gandhi later said he would “think over” if he was prepared to accept the responsibility.

Preceding the CWC meeting, a large number of elected Congress MPs demanded that Mr Gandhi be made the LOP. Several Congress leaders have come out and voiced their demand that Rahul Gandhi should take over the position of Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha citing that he would play a crucial role and this move would ultimately strengthen the party.

“Everything would be decided by the party high command. The whole country demands that Rahul Gandhi should surface as the main Leader of the Opposition. This position is apt and he will play a crucial role. The party will also strengthen the party,” Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Kumari Selja and many other elected MPs said.

Speaking on the same, Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy said that this is the demand of 140 crore Indians. “Our demand is the same as that of 140 crore Indians. Rahul Gandhi has to take the position as the leader of the Opposition. Rahul Gandhi has been fighting for women and the unemployed,” he said.

Congress MP Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who won the Lok Sabha election from Gurdaspur said Rahul Gandhi was someone who can reply to the Prime Minister in the Parliament and hence he should assume the position of LoP. “We will play the role of a strong Opposition in the Parliament. Yes, we want the country to get such a face who can reply to the Prime Minister. I think the entire country wants this,” he said.

Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh Raja Warring who is an MP elected from Ludhiana said the final decision rests with the party’s leadership and Rahul Gandhi who has to decide whether to take this role. “It has been our demand that Rahul Gandhi should come forward and handle everything but the final decision is of the leadership. Rahul Gandhi has to decide for himself.”

The party is also almost certain to re-elect Ms Sonia Gandhi as the chief of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Ms Gandhi who earlier was a member of the Lok Sabha representing Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, has this year shifted herself to the Rajya Sabha and was elected to the Upper House from Rajasthan.

After the CWC meeting, Congress MP Kumari Selja said, “It was the CWC’s wish that Rahul Gandhi be elected the LoP…” Senior Congress leader and newly elected MP from Alappuzha KC Venugopal said “CWC unanimously requested Rahul Gandhi ji to take the responsibility of the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.” Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tiwari said, “Definitely he (Rahul Gandhi) should become (LoP in Lok Sabha). This was the request of our working committee. He is fearless and courageous.”

The CWC resolution praised Rahul Gandhi for his efforts in the election campaign. “Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has to be singled out largely because of the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra that he designed and led. Both these Yatras that reflected his thinking and personality were historic turning points in our nation’s politics and instilled hope and confidence in lakhs of our workers and crores of our voters. Rahul Gandhi’s election campaign was single-minded, sharp and pointed and more than any other individual it was he who made the protection of our republic’s Constitution the central issue in the 2024 elections. The PaanchNyay-Pachees Guarantee programme which resonated so very powerfully in the election campaign was the outcome of Rahulji’s yatras in which he listened to the fears, concerns and aspirations of all people, especially youth, women, farmers, workers, Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and minorities,” it said.

Addressing the meeting, the Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the Lok Sabha poll mandate was a “decisive rejection” of the politics of divisiveness and hate, and stressed that the INDIA bloc must continue functioning cohesively both inside and outside Parliament.

Without naming the States, the Congress chief expressed concern that the party drew a blank in States where they had earlier formed State governments. The obvious reference was to Himachal Pradesh, where it failed to a win a single Lok Sabha seat, as well as States like Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh where the Congress scored nil despite the party coming to power in these States not too long ago.

“While we celebrate the revival, we should pause a little as in some states we have not performed to our abilities and expectations. Further, we could not repeat our performance in States where we had previously done well in Vidhan Sabha elections and formed the government,” he said.

“In Manipur, we won both the seats. We also won seats in Nagaland, Assam, and Meghalaya. In Maharashtra, we emerged as the single-largest party. People from all walks of life supported the congress party to save the country’s democracy and constitution.” Mr Kharge added: “Other than this, we saw an increase in seats dominated by SC, ST, OBC, and Minority voters as well as in rural areas. Going forward, we have to make our presence felt in urban areas as well.”

The Congress President also thanked Sonia Gandhi for her advice and guidance as well as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for extensive campaigns across the country and in Rae Bareli and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. “I would like to congratulate Rahul Gandhi for raising the issue of Constitution, economic disparity, unemployment, social justice and harmony and making them people issues. His 4000-km long Bharat Jodo Yatra two years ago and then the 6,600km long Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra have the party to connect with the people, learn about their concerns and aspirations. The party’s campaign revolved around these issues,” he added.

“I will be failing in my duty if I don’t acknowledge the INDIA Alliance partners, in which each party played its designated role in different states, each party contributed to the other,” he added.

After the CWC meeting, Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said, “We discussed the states where we have not done well. The entire CWC is charged up. This is the revival of the Congress party… Everyone said Congress was finished. We had to fight against the exit poll also…Now the revival of the Congress party has started. This is the sentiment of the CWC.” “We thank the people of the country for preserving the constitution and democracy. This is a moral defeat for the PM. We thank people for putting us on the path of revival,” he added.

Venugopal further said that CWC unanimously requested Rahul Gandhi to take the position of the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha. “Rahul ji is the best person to lead this campaign inside the Parliament. He heard the sentiments of CWC and he will take a decision very soon,” he added.

Rahul Gandhi won both the Wayanad and Rae Bareli seats in the elections and will have to decide within 14 days which seat he will hold and which he will vacate. He will have to make a decision before the oath-taking ceremony, likely to take place next week. On being asked which seat (Rae Bareli or Wayanad) will Rahul Gandhi keep, the Congress General Secretary said, “This decision has to be taken before the 17th and it will come in 3-4 days.”

When asked if Rahul Gandhi is ready to take charge as LoP in Lok Sabha, Congress leader Veerappa Moily said, “He has to take charge of the LoP. After all, the people want him there. INDIA team and Congress people also want him there.” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also echoed Moily’s sentiments and said, “I am very much in favour. It’s a very important proposal but he has to decide in the end.”



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