The Congress leadership on Tuesday decided to ensure that the election to the post of Deputy Chairman in Rajya Sabha does not go uncontested. The party is in talks with allies and like-minded Opposition parties, and party sources said there is a likelihood of a DMK MP being fielded as the joint Opposition candidate.
The fight will be symbolic since the Opposition side does not have numbers to defeat an NDA candidate, but the Congress leadership felt the election should not go unchallenged. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Congress’s parliamentary leadership which gave final touches to the party’s floor strategy for the monsoon session of Parliament beginning Monday.
The meeting, chaired by Sonia Gandhi and attended among others by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, has decided to forcefully demand discussions on a number of issues — border standoff with China, handling of coronavirus outbreak, economic recession, job losses and ballooning unemployment.
The post of Deputy Chairman had fallen vacant after JD(U) MP Harivansh’s term in the Upper House expired. Harivansh has since been re-elected to Rajya Sabha.
There is no official word from NDA on the likely candidate yet. Congress sources said if the DMK agrees to field one of its MPs, the candidate is likely to be Tiruchi Siva. The Congress-led opposition has close to 90 MPs in the 245-member House. One seat is vacant. And if the SP, BSP and AAP, which had been maintaining distance from the Congress, join hands with the rest of the Opposition, then the joint Opposition candidate can hope to bag just 100-102 votes.
“It will be a token fight. We will not win but we felt the election should not go unchallenged,” a senior Congress leader said. He said it was Azad who mooted the idea at the Congress meeting.
The election will take place on September 14, the opening day of the monsoon session.
The Congress meeting was attended by former PM Manmohan Singh, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, senior leaders A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, Anand Sharma, Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and K C Venugopal, besides Kodikunnil Suresh, Manish Tewari, Gaurav Gogoi, Manickam Tagore and Ravneet Singh Bittu.
It was the first time the Gandhis came face to face with Azad and Sharma, who were among the 23 leaders to sign the unprecedented letter to Sonia, after the stormy CWC meeting on August 24. The meeting was held on Tuesday as Sonia is likely to go abroad in the next few days for her annual medical check-up.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines