The Congress on Tuesday selected Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha and forwarded his name to the Lok Sabha secretary general, The Indian Express has learnt.
The five-term MP from West Bengal was selected to lead the party in the Lok Sabha after a lengthy meeting of the Parliamentary Core Committee that was chaired by Congress Legislature Party chief Sonia Gandhi and also attended by Rahul Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh.
Chowdhury has been representing Berhampore since 1999. Chowdhury has been the chief of the West Bengal Congress and was also the Minister of State for Railways during the UPA government from 2012 to 2014.
Besides Chowdhury, Kodikkunnil Suresh, the senior-most Congress MP, and his colleague from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, were the frontrunners for the post. Mallikarjun Kharge, who was the Congress floor leader in the last Lok Sabha, lost the elections this time.
The Congress, which won only 51 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, failed to get the post of Leader of Opposition for the second time in a row as it did not get the benchmark 10 per cent seats required to stake a claim for the post.
The party also discussed the strategy to be adopted at the meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday for talks on “one nation, one election” concept.
Senior Congress leaders A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh and K Suresh were among those present at the meeting held at Sonia Gandhi’s residence.
The Prime Minister’s meeting with presidents of all political parties will also deliberate on celebrations to mark the completion of 75 years of India’s Independence in 2022 and 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year. It will be followed by a dinner meeting with all MPs on June 20.
Asked about two-time BJP MP Om Birla being the NDA nominee for the Speaker’s post, Chowdhury said the party won’t oppose his candidature. “No problem, we won’t oppose anyone’s name,” he said.
On Prime Minister Modi’s appeal to the Opposition that it should not worry about numbers in the Lok Sabha, Chowdhury said: “That is the core essence of democracy. Democracy is not determined only by numbers, it is determined by opinion, discussions and dialogue.”