The Telegraph
Monday , May 19 , 2014
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Hunt for House cushion for Rahul

- Blissful world of losers wearing blinkers

New Delhi, May 18: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi may not hand the parliamentary party’s reins to Rahul Gandhi immediately and could opt to give the job to veterans who have weathered political crises earlier, sources said.

The sources said no decision had yet been taken but the majority opinion favoured giving Rahul the time to learn parliamentary practices and work in the field to revive the party. While Kamal Nath is being preferred as the leader in the Lok Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s name is doing the rounds for the Rajya Sabha.

Although Sonia was leader of the Opposition during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure and some want her to take the post, the dominant view is that the poor numbers of the Congress and the rest of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha would make the job extremely demanding.

Besides, an element of uncertainty has crept up on the post of the Opposition leader itself. It is not yet clear whether a party or group will require at least 55 MPs to stake claim to the post.

Sonia may also have problems working with Narendra Modi, who has been ruthless in attacking the family. Neither Sonia nor Rahul has called the Prime Minister-designate to congratulate him, although some in the party feel the ice will have to be broken sooner than later.

The leader of the Opposition has a systemic relationship with the government and will have to interact regularly with the BJP’s floor managers. In the pre-2004 days when Sonia was leader of the Opposition, her deputies, the late Madhavrao Scindia and Shivraj Patil, did the job.

But the political ambience under Modi, who has ensured single-party majority, will be different from that in the coalition era, during which governments worked under constraints and could not steamroller the Opposition.

Nath, who has won his ninth term and has been in the Lok Sabha since 1980, has excellent relations across parties and is well versed in parliamentary techniques and legalities. He was the parliamentary affairs minister in the previous government.

Nath, Veerappa Moily and Mallikarjun Kharge were the only cabinet ministers to be re-elected this time, a pointer to the voter anger against the Manmohan Singh government.


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