Dissenters snubbed as Sonia Gandhi makes key Congress appointments to Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha

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Updated: Aug 28, 2020 11:21 AM

A letter by 23 senior Congress leaders had triggered a massive turmoil within the Congress with leaders being divided into two camps.

Sonia Gandhi makes key Congress appointments to Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha days after letter politics.

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi has delivered a snub to 23 senior party leaders who created a flutter with a letter seeking a full-time active and visible leadership. According to a report in The Indian Express, Sonia has appointed Gaurav Gogoi as deputy to legislature party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Gaurav is a two-term MP from Kaliabor in Assam and considered a Gandhi family loyalist.

Party’s Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu has been appointed as the Whip. Bittu’s appointment is seen as a snub to Manish Tewari who is senior to the Ludhiana MP. Bittu had first replaced Tewari as the party’s candidate for the Ludhiana seat in 2014. Tewari didn’t contest elections in 2014.

Tewari, a Lok Sabha MP from Anandpur Sahib, has been sidelined by Sonia even though he is much senior to Gogoi. Both Tewari and Gogoi are, however, two-term MPs. Tewari was one of the 23 signatories of the letter that had triggered a massive turmoil within the party with leaders being divided into two camps. Tewari had served as the NSUI president and Youth Congress. He was also a minister in the UPA-II government.

“Manish (Tewari) could have come in at least as the deputy leader (in Lok Sabha),” a senior Congress leader was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

The Congress leader also noted that three-time MP Shashi Tharoor has also been sidelined. Tharoor had also signed the letter that called for an active leadership and internal elections. He, however, said that Tharoor “couldn’t have come in since K Suresh, who is also from Kerala, is there”.

Suresh is Chief Whip, one of the posts in the party’s parliamentary set up.

In Rajya Sabha, Sonia Gandhi has appointed party general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal as a part of a new five-member decision-making group. Ghulam Nabi Azad is the senior-most Congress leader in the Upper House and also the leader of the opposition.

Venugopal’s appointment to the committee is seen as a response to Azad who was also one of the 23 dissidents.

Both Venugopal and Gogoi are considered close to Sonia’s son and former party chief Rahul Gandhi.

Besides Azad and Venugopal, the decision-making group in the Upper House includes deputy leader Anand Sharma, Ahmed Patel, and Jairam Ramesh who has also been appointed as the Chief Whip.

A similar group has been created in Lok Sabha as well. It comprises Chowdhury, Gogoi, Suresh, Bittu, and Manickam Tagore. Tagore is considered as a Rahul loyalist.

“As Chairperson of the CPP, I have decided to constitute the… groups to facilitate and ensure the effective functioning of our 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 can be convened as and when needed,” Sonia said while making announcements late on Thursday evening.

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