Oppn comes across as a disparate group in Parliament

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders during the 'Motion of Thanks on President's Address', at Parliament in New Delhi. (PTI File Photo)

The leadership crisis in the Congress has taken its toll on floor coordination in Parliament, where the opposition comes across as a disparate grouping against the ruling NDA that performs as a cohesive unit.

Smaller parties in the opposition look forward to the Congress for a leadership role in the House, particularly the Lok Sabha, where the newly elected BJP members’ display of aggression when it comes to legislative business or raising issues in the House.

“The opposition leaders have held only one meeting, that too at the insistence of smaller parties. There has been no initiative from larger parties for a joint strategy in Parliament,” a senior opposition member in the Lok Sabha said.

He said though Sonia Gandhi is the leader of the Congress Party in Parliament, the main opposition was too preoccupied with its leadership crisis.

“We had agreed to meet often during the session, but there has been no follow up to the first meeting as yet,” the leader said.

Besides the Congress which has 52 members and the largest opposition party, DMK (23), Trinamool (22), YSR Congress (22), BJD (12) and BSP (10) and TRS (9) have significant numbers in the Lok Sabha.

Of these, YSR Congress, BJD and TRS claim to maintain equidistance from the Congress and the BJP, but are more inclined to side with the NDA government as has been witnessed when issues such as triple talaq and situation in Kashmir rocked the House.

Of the four Independents – Sumalatha, Navnit Rana, Mohan Delkar and Naba Kumar Saraniya – two have been drifting towards the BJP. Lok Sabha member from Mandya Sumalatha more often seen seated with the BJP members. Rana, who won the Amravati Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra with NCP backing, too appears to be veering towards the BJP.

Rana, a Mumbai-born Punjabi who made a career in Telugu films, recently had a 45-minute meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with her husband Ravi Rana, an Independent MLA in Maharashtra.

“We practice a policy of maintaining equal distance from the Congress and the BJP,” Ravi Rana said. However, the couple may take a call on aligning with either grouping after the results of the Maharashtra assembly elections scheduled for October.

Saraniya, who represents Kokrajhar in Assam, is firmly with the opposition ranks, while Delkar, a former Congressman who won from Dadra & Nagar Haveli as an Independent, appears keen to maintain his separate identity.

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