Winter session of Parliament: Congress to devise new strategy for floor management, coordination

New Delhi : With Rahul Gandhi set to skip the winter session of Parliament due to the Bhart Jodo Yatra and Sonia Gandhi unlikely to get involved in day-to-day floor management, it will be a new chapter for the Congress party in daily management of issues as well as coordination with other opposition parties in the upcoming session.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge will continue as the leader of the opposition, as will Adhir Chowdhury as the party leader in the Lok Sabha. “But the upcoming session will not see Rahul in an active role after a long gap. Similarly, Sonia Gandhi, who remains the Congress parliamentary party chief, might not get involved in daily issues after the election of the new party president,” a senior functionary said, seeking anonymity.

Along with Rahul Gandhi, Congress’ Rajya Sabha chief whip Jairam Ramesh and senior leader Digvijaya Singh, too, will be absent most of the time. They are an important part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Their absence, particularly of Jairam’s, who is the party’s key parliamentary strategist, will require additional workforce from the Congress in this session.

“Newly elected Rajya Sabha leader Rajiv Shukla will play an important role as a back room boy in this upcoming parliamentary session for the Congress,” said the leader cited above. “Shukla, one of the few leaders with good rapport across party lines, is best suited to help Kharge in floor management.”

In the Lok Sabha, Chowdhury, Gaurav Gogoi, Manish Tewari and Kondikunnil Suresh might be part of the team to coordinate with other political parties, said another leader.

Rahul Gandhi in the past few years took active interest in the Congress’ parliamentary outreach. On August 3 last year, he hosted a breakfast meeting with all opposition leaders, which was widely seen as his first attempt to emerge as the key face for the entire opposition. In the same year, he started attending the opposition’s strategy meetings with like-minded parties to unify various opposition constituents over chosen issues. These meetings mostly took place at Kharge’s office, but also at times in the party’s parliamentary office.

Sonia Gandhi, too, paid importance to parliamentary outreach, often calling meetings of senior leaders to decide a collective stand on issues pending before the two Houses. On December 14, 2021, Sonia Gandhi met Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s TR Baalu, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Sitaram Yechury and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah to discuss parliamentary strategy. Rahul Gandhi was present in the meeting.

Another leader, however, hinted that while Kharge will continue to be the leader of the opposition in the upcoming winter session, in the longer run, he may try to accommodate a Hindi-speaking leader in that position.