Congress readies to sit in Opposition

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on March 09, 2018

New role Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra during a roadshow in Amethi (file photo)

Rahul may be Leader of Opposition; greater role for Priyanka

With the exit polls predicting a historic defeat for the Congress, the party brass is preparing for the eventuality of sitting in the Opposition after 10 years with a new line of succession.

Suggestions to the high command by top leaders include bringing Priyanka Gandhi to the forefront by making her the Congress vice president or national coordinator; assigning the job of Leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha to Rahul Gandhi; and Sonia Gandhi’s continuation as Congress President and UPA Chairperson.

This move is also aimed at dousing discontent against the Gandhis for their handling of the elections.

Insiders also see a chance of Defence Minister AK Antony becoming the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already indicated political retirement, Antony will be the senior most Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha. Names of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Digvijaya Singh are also making the rounds for the post.

Gandhi family loyalists believe the disintegration of the party can be checked only if the family members take pivotal roles inside and outside Parliament.

They believe that for Rahul, the post of Leader of Opposition will provide the ideal platform to pave the way for a renewal of the party at the national level.

They cite the evolution of Sonia from a reluctant participant to a seasoned politician during her tenure as Leader of Opposition between 1998 and 2004.

“We will not be alone or isolated in the Opposition. All governments in the future will have to face anti-incumbency. If the BJP decides to make Narendra Modi Prime Minister the Opposition against him will be stronger,” said a top Congress leader.

Direct fight

Party insiders say the last seven days of election saw a direct fight between Modi and Priyanka. A section of the Congress top brass wants to bring Priyanka to the top leadership to look at the party’s affairs if Rahul becomes the Leader of Opposition.

In an inside analysis, the maximum number of seats the Congress hopes to win is 140. Party insiders say if they cross 120, the party will make all efforts to block “communal” BJP from making a Government. “In 2004, we had just 144 seats and we made the Government. It is easy for us to win allies,” the Congress leader said.

Published on May 14, 2014

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