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Congress picks Kharge as its leader in Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The Congress Monday appointed former railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge as the party's leader in the Lok Sabha.

Kharge Congress
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. File pic

Party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told IANS that Kharge "has been appointed as the leader of the Congress parliamentary party in Lok Sabha".

Dwivedi added that it was up to the "speaker to decide (whether the) status of leader of opposition" would be granted in Kharge's case as the party does not have enough numbers to claim the mantle of the main opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

The Congress won 44 seats in the Lok Sabha in the polls. The main opposition party is required to have at least 55 MPs in the lower house of parliament or 10 percent of its total strength of 545. However, the speaker can confer the status at his or her discretion.

Kharge, who won the election from Gulbarga in Karnataka, has had a long innings in state politics and from 1969 onward held a number of important positions in the party organisation and in the assembly, as part of both the government and the opposition.

From the Dalit community, he has served as the president of the state unit of the Congress, a cabinet minister in Congress governments and also as the leader of opposition in the assembly.

He served as cabinet minister in the Congress-led UPA central government, as the minister for labour and employment and later as the railway minister.

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