This refers to the report, “Congress may not get Leader of Opposition post” (June 10). In an electoral system like ours, the ruling party represents less than 50 per cent of the voters. Hence, it is a must to have a Leader of the Opposition to air the points of view of others.
The post of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha is not merely ceremonial in nature. Its incumbent provides the much- needed counterweight to the ruling dispensation, besides being consulted in the appointment of the Lok Pal and the Chief Vigilance Commissioner. The Leader of the Opposition is the voice of dissent and democracy’s watchdog in the Lower House of Parliament. The Congress party’s strength is not enough for it to lay claim to the post, but it is the second largest party in the House. The BJP must demonstrate the victor’s magnanimity by overlooking the technicality of rules and officially appoint the Congress party’s candidate for the post as the Leader of the Opposition. The BJP anyway doesn’t have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha to push through important Bills.
The relevance of the Opposition in a parliamentary democracy needs no exaggeration. The Opposition’s viewpoints and the ruling party’s mindset on dissenting views are what matter. But the present issue in the Lok Sabha is merely centred on the post of the Leader of the Opposition. The law is clear on the eligibility of a member to be officially designated to the position. The prescribed minimum of 10 per cent of the total seats that qualifies an official Opposition is seemingly low. Hence, there is no need to waive it under any circumstances. In fact, the figure should be raised to 30 per cent, if possible. There is a saving on public money spent unnecessarily if none qualifies through polls. In fact, the issue is about the perquisites associated with the post. Also, instead of an individual party, each coalition in the Opposition should be taken as one unit.