The Congress on Sunday appointed the former Union Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, as its leader in the Rajya Sabha, paving way for his appointment as the next Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House.
With 67 MPs in the 245-member Rajya Sabha, the Congress has more than the requisite 10 per cent strength in the House required to claim the Leader of the Opposition post. The former Union Minister Anand Sharma, who represents Himachal Prad-esh, was appointed Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha.
Mr. Azad comes to his new assignment with a long and varied career in politics, starting out as a block president. Though he has held positions both in the party and the government, including being the J&K Chief Minister, he is regarded as a skilled organisational man. The 65-year-old has been a Lok Sabha MP twice and thereafter spent several terms in the Rajya Sabha.
The appointment of Mr. Azad and Mr. Sharma to key positions in the Rajya Sabha balances, in terms of region, caste and religion, the recent nomination of senior Dalit leader from Karnataka Mallikarjun Kharge and the former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh as the leader and the deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.