Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge will be the next Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. He will succeed senior Congress leader and current Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is set to retire from the Upper House on February 15.
With no Assembly in place in Jammu and Kashmir, the immediate chance of Ghulam Nabi Azad’s return to Rajya Sabha is uncertain. His chances of a return to Rajya Sabha was only possible from Kerala, where election to the Upper House is scheduled for April. Meanwhile, Congress had also maintained silence on Azad’s return to the House and now with clarity on Kharge’s name for LoP, it has been made clear that Azad is not going to return in the near future.
Mallikarjun Kharge was elected to Rajya Sabha in June last year after Congress accommodated him in the House following his defeat in the 2019 polls. Kharge, among the trusted aides of the Gandhi family, will be the 17th Leader of Opposition in the Upper House. Also, he will be the second Karnataka leader to hold the position. Prior to him, M S Gurupadaswamy served as the Leader of Opposition between March 1971 and April 1972.
Azad was given a tearful send-off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha. Speaking during his farewell, PM Modi had said that those replacing Azad will have a tough task ahead matching his stature. The PM had recalled the 2006 Jammu and Kashmir terror attack when Azad was the CM in the state and had extended all possible help to him as the then Gujarat CM.