Union Minister Piyush Goyal will be the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha. He will replace Thaawarchand Gehlot, who was last week sworn in as Karnataka's new Governor.
Mr Goyal, 57, who was serving as the Deputy Leader of Rajya Sabha, has been chosen for the key role just days before the start of the monsoon session of parliament. The BJP leader has been a member of Rajya Sabha since 2010.
In a massive cabinet reboot last week, Mr Goyal took charge of the Textiles Ministry, which was held by Union Minister Smriti Irani. She continues to head the Women and Child Development Ministry. Ashwini Vaishnaw, a new entrant and a Rajya Sabha MP from Odisha, was chosen as the country's new Railways Minister. The portfolio was earlier held by Mr Goyal.
Mr Goyal has handled the commerce and industry, consumer affairs, and food and public distribution ministries. His "tenure has seen Indian Railways achieve its best-ever safety record in 2018-19," according to his official website. Ved Prakash Goyal, his father, was Union Minister of Shipping in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
Party insiders say he missed out on the opportunity to become the Finance Minister when Nirmala Sitharaman was given this portfolio. Arun Jaitley had earlier expressed his desire not to be in the cabinet, and Mr Goyal had held the portfolio in his absence when he was sick.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to be very happy with Mr Goyal, who is considered a "performer" and a "doer"
In Rajya Sabha, he, along with Bhupendra Yadav, have been considered as the government's key trouble-shooters who helped coax opposition leaders join the BJP. He is also believed to have mobilised support on crucial bills.
Interestingly, on Tuesday, when the formation of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs was announced, he was not made a member of the CCPA even as the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha should ideally be a part of the committee.
It seems that he will now be included in this committee.
As the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha, he will occupy the first seat in the House and PM Modi will sit next to him.
He is now also expected to get a role in the BJP Parliamentary Board, the party's highest decision making body, with his enhanced stature.
Congratulatory messages poured soon after the announcement. "Heartiest congratulations to Piyush Goyal ji on being appointed as the Leader of House in Rajya Sabha," tweeted senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari in Hindi.
Thawarchand Gehlot, 83, took over as Governor of Karnataka following the mega cabinet reboot that saw 36 new ministers join the government. He was the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment and also the BJP's Rajya Sabha leader.
The monsoon session of parliament will be held between July 19 and August 13. Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will hold the sessions simultaneously with minimum presence of officials, staff and media to ensure social distancing. The timing will be usual - 11 am to 6 pm - with both zero hour and question hour included, officials said.
Amid buzz that the Congress was considering replacing Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, party sources today dismissed the speculation, adding that there will be no change in the leadership.