New Delhi, February 12: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge will be the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, succeeding Ghulam Nabi Azad whose tenure comes to an end on Monday.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has written to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for appointing Kharge to the post as Azad is retiring.
Azad was elected to the Upper House from Jammu and Kashmir, which does not have an assembly currently after it was made a Union Territory with the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
Kharge, a Dalit leader from Karnataka, was the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha from 2014 to 2019. The grand old party could not get the leader of opposition’s post in the previous and the current Lok Sabha as its numbers were less than the mandated 10 per cent of the total number of seats in the Lower House.
Kharge will be the 17th Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha since December, 1969.
Shyam Nandan Mishra was the first Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and a total of 13 members have so far held that post in the House of Elders including M S Gurupadaswamy, Kamlapati Tripathi, Bhila Paswan Shastri, L K Advani, P Shiv Shanker, Jaipal Reddy, Sikander Bakht, S B Chavan, Manmohan Singh, Jaswant Singh, Arun Jaitley and Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Kamlapati Tripathi, M S Gurupadaswamy and Sikander Bakht had been the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha twice each.
Azad has been the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha for the longest period of 6 years 9 months followed by Sikander Bakht (5 years 10 months), Manmohan Singh (5 years 9 months), Arun Jaitley (5 years 2 months) and Jaswant Singh (5 years).
No opposition party had the requisite strength of 1/10th of the total membership of the House during the period 1952 to 1969 and 1972 to 1977 and accordingly there was no recognised Leader of the Opposition during these periods, the Rajya Sabha secretariat said.
As required under Section 2 of the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1972, no leader of any party in opposition to the government was recognised as Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha during the period 1980 to 1989, it said. (PTI)