The Congress on Sunday appointed former Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad as the leader of the party in Rajya Sabha, paving the way for his anointment as Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House.
Anand Sharma, another former Union minister, was made Deputy leader of the party. The appointments were announced by Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi in a statement issued Sunday evening.
The Congress has 67 members in the 250-member House, thus giving it the required strength to get the post of Leader of the Opposition.
Unlike many members of Rajya Sabha, Azad has a mass base in J&K, despite losing the Udhampur seat in the Lok Sabha polls. He is one the most senior Congress leaders in Rajya Sabha.
Dwivedi said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had nominated Azad as Leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha and Sharma as Deputy Leader, “exercising her authorisation by the Constitution of the Congress party in Parliament”.
The appointments come days after the party appointed senior leader and former minister Mallikarjun Kharge the party’s leader in Lok Sabha and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh the party’s deputy leader.
While former defence minister A K Antony was considered a strong contender for leader in Rajya Sabha, he may have lost out as the party had already appointed another leader from the south, Kharge, as its leader in Lok Sabha.