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Letter writers Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari in new Congress parliamentary groups

Sonia also signalled that Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury will continue as the leader of the party in Lok Sabha.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: July 19, 2021 6:08:20 am
Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor. (File)

Ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday reconstituted the party’s parliamentary groups, bringing in Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor in the Lok Sabha group and senior leaders like P Chidambaram, Ambika Soni and Digvijaya Singh in the Rajya Sabha group.

The decision to include Tewari and Tharoor — who were signatories to the letter a group of 23 senior leaders had written to Sonia last year seeking radical changes in the party – is significant as it is seen as yet another attempt by her to involve the letter writers in the decision-making process.

Sonia also signalled that Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury will continue as the leader of the party in Lok Sabha.

The Congress leadership had toyed with the idea of removing Chowdhury, which was seen as an attempt by the party to build bridges with the Trinamool Congress and coordinate the campaign against the BJP and the central government in Parliament. “He is continuing as of now,” a senior leader told The Indian Express.

Sonia had in August last year elevated two-term MP from Assam Gaurav Gogoi as the party’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha and Punjab MP Ravneet Singh Bittu as the whip. The move was then seen as a snub to Tharoor and Tewari as it had come just days after the 23 leaders had written to Sonia asking for major changes in the party organisation.

On Sunday, she included both Tewari and Tharoor in the Lok Sabha group headed by Chowdhury. Both of them were, interestingly, seen as possible replacements for Chowdhury.

The other members are Gogoi, chief whip Kodikunnil Suresh, Bittu and fellow whip Manickam Tagore. In Rajya Sabha, she expanded the group to include former Union ministers Chidambaram and Soni and Singh, the former Madhya Pradesh CM. While Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge heads the group, the other members are deputy leader Anand Sharma, chief whip Jairam Ramesh and AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal.

Sonia, in the appointment letter, said the groups are meant to facilitate and ensure effective functioning of the party in both Houses of Parliament. “These groups will meet daily during the session and can meet during the inter-session periods as well where Parliament issues are concerned… joint meetings of these groups can be convened as and when needed,” she said. Kharge will be the convenor of joint meetings.

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