New Delhi: The Congress has called a meeting of all Opposition parties on July 16 to discuss a possible joint candidate for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman and a joint strategy for Parliament’s coming Monsoon Session.
The meeting, which was called by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, will be held at his office in the Parliament building at 6 pm, sources said.
While invitations to attend the meeting have been sent to almost all Opposition parties, it’s not yet clear who will be attending it. The Rajya Sabha deputy chairman’s post is seen as another opportunity for the Opposition parties to show
A senior Congress leader who didn’t want to be named said the Congress was open both to the idea of fielding its own candidate or letting any other consensus Opposition candidate to be fielded. Sources said senior Trinamul Congress leader Sukhendu Shekhar Roy was a likely consensus candidate. However, it remains to be seen if the Congress will be ready to give the post to any other Opposition party. P.J. Kurien retired as deputy chairman July 1 as his term in the Upper House ended.
There has been speculation that the BJP-led NDA could field Akali Dal member Naresh Gujral as its candidate.
There is also talk of the government taking its own time to hold elections to the post till its finds the numbers to get its own candidate elected.
Sources said the NDA would like to be sure of its numbers and not like to face defeat if there is a contest. They said the chances of a consensus on an Opposition candidate were also remote as the post has gone to the members of the ruling party in the recent past.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu had earlier this month called for the ruling and Opposition parties to build a consensus on the next deputy chairman.