There is growing resentment within the Congress over Rahul Gandhi's refusal to become leader of opposition. A day after former Kerala minister TH Mustafa was suspended from the Congress for calling Rahul a joker, several general secretaries and office bearers have conveyed to the party vice-president to either lead the newly elected MPs in the Lok Sabha or quit politics. There is speculation that Kamal Nath or some other senior Congressman is likely to become leader of opposition.
"He (Rahul) led us in the elections... had we won, he would have become prime minister. Therefore, it is his duty to lead us in the Lok Sabha now," a senior leader told dna. Others were a bit charitable, saying that the appointment of another person would create a dual power centre and convey the message that Rahul was shying away from taking responsibility.
"Sonia Gandhi should ideally lead us in the House, but since her health may not permit her to stay for long hours in Parliament, it is Rahul's duty to take over as leader of opposition," said another Congress leader. He said entrusting the job on someone else would create confusion about leadership in the party for the next election.
Rahul on Wednesday had a tough time at the Youth Congress Convention where members were about to pass a unanimous resolution to retract reforms and the election system introduced by him in the organisation over the years. Having got wind of the resolution, Rahul vetoed it, saying he would not allow the reform process to be changed for the sake of electoral success.
Senior general secretary Digvijay Singh, too, had earlier asked Rahul to lead the party in Parliament. Though there are concerns about Rahul's ability to deliver as opposition leader, many in the Congress see it as a great opportunity for him to showcase his political acumen and reach out to the public. His performance will have a direct impact on the party's fortunes in the assembly elections in Maharashtra, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana, scheduled to be held later this year.
However, Rahul's performance has been disappointing so far. In the 15th Lok Sabha, he did not ask a single question and his attendance was a poor 42.61 per cent. In the standing committees, where parliamentary work is done, it was even more dismal at 13.64 per cent. Also, he spent just 53.68 per cent of the MPLADS funds allocated to him.