NEW DELHI :
At a high-level strategy meet on Tuesday, senior leaders of Congress party decided they would reach out to other opposition as well as like minded parties to come together and field a joint opposition candidate for the post of the deputy chairman in Rajya Sabha. Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, which begins on Monday, Congress also decided that it will aim at better coordination with other opposition parties on key issues to be raised.
The decisions were taken at a meeting of Congress parliamentary strategy group which was chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi. The election for the post is necessitated after the tenure of deputy chairman Harivansh ended as a Rajya Sabha member. To be sure, he has already returned as a member of the Upper House again after he got elected from Bihar in April this year.
“The discussion was started by leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad who said that the opposition parties have been discussing the issue unofficially and the general consensus is that there should be a joint opposition candidate. We are going to reach out to like minded parties for further discussion on this,” a senior party leader who is member of the strategy group said requesting anonymity.
According to people aware of developments, the name or party of the joint opposition candidate is not yet finalized and more clarity could emerge when talks take place. The developments are significant because an earlier attempt by the Congress in 2018 had failed. Then its candidate and senior leader B K Hariprasad, who got support of 105 Rajya Sabha members, was defeated by Harivansh who drew support from 125 members.
The meeting of the strategy group on Tuesday also discussed key issues that the Congress would actively raise in the upcoming session including union government’s handling of the covid-19 pandemic, the nearly three-month long lockdown to control its spread, state of the economy, compensation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and border standoff with China.
The meeting on Tuesday was also the first time that Gandhi interacted with some of the leaders who were signatories of the letter which had called for a systematic overhaul in the party organization, ever since the key CWC (Congress Working Committee) meeting last month.