"Sonia Gandhi has appointed Mallikarjun Kharge as the leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha," announced Congress leader Janardhan Dwivedi.
Kharge had earlier served as the Union Railways Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government led by former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
The Congress performed poorly in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, managing to win only 44 seats.
The nomination of Kharge who is a Dalit leader and a second term member from Gulbarga, was made by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who has brushed aside demands that either she or her son Rahul take over as leader of the party in the Lok Sabha.
“Congress President Sonia Gandhi has nominated Mallikarjun Kharge, as the Leader of the party in Lok Sabha,” party General Secretary in charge of Organisation Janardan Dwivedi announced in the evening to mediapersons.
Congress got 44 seats in the Lower House this election and to be recognised as the main Opposition, a party has to get at least 10% of the total strength of the 543-member House – that is 55 MPs.
Mallikarjuna Kharge said his party would not function as an “opposition for opposition sake” and its approach would be “issue-based”.
Earlier, the name of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was doing the rounds for the post, as the majority was in favour that either Rahul or Sonia occupy this post.
Kharge was Railway Minister in UPA II and represents the has been elected from Gulbarga for a second time in the recent elections. He was elected to the Karnataka Assembly 9 times and had functioned as the Leader of the Opposition there.