New Delhi, Feb 7: The Congress would be naming its new Leader of Opposition in the Upper House as Ghulam Nabi Azad's term as a member of the Rajya Sabha is ending this month.
As per the party's constitution, Sonia Gandhi as Chairman of the Congress Parliamentary party is authorised to name and appoint the Leader of the Congress in the House. Being the principal opposition party, the Congress leader will be the leader of the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha.
The leaders, who are being considered as thefront runners in the Congress for the top post are -- Anand Sharma, the current deputy leader of the party, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, former Union Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the party's Dalit face and former floor leader in the Lok Sabha.
Sources say that being a Dalit, and coming from a politically crucial state of Karnataka, Kharge could be the top choice in the party, as Anand Sharma's term is ending soon.
However, some in the party say that Sharma, being a vocal member and a north Indian face hailing from Himachal Pradesh, may be given the post as the party leadership may want a truce with the G23 faction.
Both Azad and Sharma were in the forefront while writing a letter to Sonia Gandhi for bringing sweeping reforms in the party, while senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal could also emerge as a dark horse, as he might fit into the shoes of Arun Jaitely who was the Leader of Opposition during the UPA regime and a lawyer too, though he was in the BJP.
Former two-time Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh could emerge as a consensus candidate who could have the blessings of both the 10 Janpath and support from Rahul Gandhi.
Congress sources say the party needs an articulate leader in the Rajya Sabha.
Azad may have to wait for elections in Jammu & Kashmir where the Assembly was dissolved and sources say he is keen to return to state politics. However, the state has not announced elections for the Assembly since more than a year has passed after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into union territories.
Sonia Gandhi will have to make a balancing act while choosing the new leader -- to pick someone from the old guard to keep the dissenters at bay and also not let questions arise. The first sign of uneasiness emerged after two close leaders of Rahul Gandhi -- Rajeev Satav from Maharashtra and KC Venugopal from Rajasthan, were sent to the Rajya Sabha. - IANS