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Mallikarjun Kharge to replace Azad as leader of Rajya Sabha Oppn

Mallikarjun Kharge

Mallikarjun Kharge was the leader of the Congress in the last Lok Sabha/File Photo

New Delhi: As Leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad retires from the Rajya Sabha on February 15, Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge is set to replace the positions, suggests reports.

According to sources in the Congress, Sonia Gandhi as Chairman of the Congress Parliamentary party has written to the Chairman to appoint Kharge as the Leader of Opposition.

However, there is no confirmation yet from the Chairman of the Upper House office.

Mallikarjun Kharge was the leader of the Congress in the last Lok Sabha.

Kharge, a former Union Minister in the Manmohan Singh government, has a long career in politics and belongs to the Dalit community. He was a minister during the Congress rule in Karnataka.

Sources say that being a Dalit, and coming from a politically crucial state of Karnataka, Kharge could be the top choice in the party.

He is also a Hindi speaking leader, which will make the Congress comfortable in the Hindi heartland. He is close to the leadership and has a good equation with Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a tearful farewell to the leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, had said, "The person who will replace Ghulam Nabi ji (as Leader of Opposition) will have difficulty matching his work because he was not only concerned about his party but also about the country and the House."

Azad also turned emotional during his response. He said the BJP has always been part of "nationalist politics", and he felt "proud" that he was a "Hindustani Muslim". While he did not mention the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, he sought to draw attention to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. Addressing Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, Azad said: "Both of you are sitting here. Build the homes which were uprooted, we will all have to try for this".

(With inputs from various agencies)

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