New Delhi: Continuing with high profile organization related changes, this time for Parliament, Congress party on Thursday appointed former union minister Jairam Ramesh as the chief whip of party in Rajya Sabha and chose two young faces for key post in Lok Sabha – Gaurav Gogoi as deputy leader and Ravneet Singh Bittu as whip, according to people aware of developments.
Additionally, the party also formed a ten-member committee, which will include 5 members each from both the Houses, to firm up party’s stand on key issues in the Parliament and ensure greater coordination between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The move is significant as it comes less than three weeks of the expected monsoon session of Parliament, dates for which are not yet officially announced.
“Jairam Ramesh has been appointed as chief whip in Rajya Sabha, the position has been vacant since Bhubaneswar Kalita left the party. Similarly in Lok Sabha, Gogoi has been promoted from being a whip to deputy leader of the House and Ravneet Bittu has been appointed in the position that subsequently fell vacant,” a senior party leader said requesting anonymity.
The members of the parliamentary committee from Rajya Sabha will include leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, deputy leader of opposition Anand Sharma, Ramesh in addition of party treasurer Ahmed Patel and general secretary organization K C Venugopal. From Lok Sabha this includes leader of the parliamentary party Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, chief whip K Suresh, whip Manickam Tagore alongwith Gogoi and Bittu.
“The 10-member parliamentary committee is a significant move because it points out to the party acknowledging need for greater coordination in the Parliament not just within its members but also with other opposition parties over key policy issues,” the leader added. The parliamentary committee comes just a day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi signed off on a five member committee to look into ordinances promulgated by the union government.
A section of party leaders however feels that that the new appointments, particularly those in Lok Sabha and ordinance committee, have overlooked senior lawmakers who were part of 23 leaders who wrote a letter to Gandhi highlighting the need for a systematic overhaul of the party. Out of the ten-member committee appointed for Parliament, the signatories of the letter included party’s top two leaders in Rajya Sabha – Azad and Sharma.
The issue had become a key bone of contention in a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) where it was decided that Gandhi would continue on the top post till the process to select her successor took place. Several from this group of leaders have said this week that they were not dissenters and the suggestions were made in sincerity to seek internal reforms.
The key changes with parliamentary affairs come just a day after Gandhi chaired a meeting of seven chief ministers from opposition ruled states including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren along with those from Congress ruled states. All the opposition leaders who joined the meeting on Wednesday had highlighted the need to have greater coordination between opposition parties.