New Delhi: With just a day left for the Budget Session of Parliament to begin, Congress party has yet to appoint its Leader in the Lok Sabha. Earlier there were talks that Rahul Gandhi, who is reluctant to continue as Congress president after the party`s drubbing the polls, will be taking charge of the grand old party`s attack on the government in the lower House.
With the party ruling out his discontinuation from his post, the speculations have died down creating further suspense on who would be the new leader. With the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections of senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge`s, who led Congress in the 16th Lok Sabha, the party is looking for a leader with excellent command over Hindi and English language, besides being loyal to the Gandhi family.
Sources in the party said former Union Ministers Manish Tewari, Shashi Tharoor, West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary and Kerala unit working president K Suresh are among the front runners for the job. Chances run high for Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram MP), K Suresh (Mavelikkara) and Manish Tewari (Anandpur Sahib) since the Congress has secured most of the seats in Kerala, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, the states this leader hail from.
While Tharoor`s impeccable English and a mild command over Hindi goes in his favour, his name in the Sunanda Pushkar case creates a hurdle in his path. K Suresh, another figure from Kerala, is a Dalit and a long-time party loyal but his inability to speak Hindi and poor English speaking skill is somewhere he lacks behind. Manish Tewari is leading the race with his equal authority over Hindi and English and his image as an excellent spokesperson.
"Tewari" title tagged to his name may also help him get the job. Tewari, a product of student politics, was made Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology during the second term of UPA rule. Congress` top leadership was reportedly unhappy for some time after he refused to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but he made a comeback as a spokesman.
Meanwhile, Chaudhary and K Suresh have been instructed to attend the all-party meet on Sunday. India`s oldest party has to appoint leader and deputy leader of the party, main whip along with two other whips in the Lok Sabha in a period of 24 hours.
Congress has so far maintained that it will appoint the leader with time. The party faces an uphill task of balancing north-south mathematics in these appointments.