Congress for no slugfest over Leader of Opposition post

Fresh start: Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses the CPP meeting at Parliament House in New Delhi on Saturday.  

The Congress on June 1 claimed that it will not stake claim for the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament since it is short of the necessary numbers to be eligible for the position.

“It’s a fact that, it’s 10% of the strength of House. Since we are two short of this figure, officially we can’t have a Leader of Opposition. However. onus also lies at doorstep of the government whether they want to designate a party formally as principal opposition or not,” chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

The Leader of Opposition, is leader of the largest party that has not less than one-tenth of the total strength of the house. In Lok Sabha, total strength is 545 members so any party that has 55 members can get the post. The Congress which is the second largest party in the house after the BJP only has 52 members which is three short of the necessary figure.

Rumbling within

The party, however, is divided on the issue. A section feels that all possible legal options should be explored, though the stronger sentiment is to not turn this into a slanging match with the government.

“If a pre-poll alliance can be allowed to form the government then why should such an alliance not be allowed to stake claim to Leader of Opposition’s position,” a senior Congress leader argued.

Together with the DMK and other parties, the UPA — with 92 members — is well above the necessary figure.

Legal position

Former Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha P.J. Kurien pointed that legally the Congress is entitled to the position.

“The 10% formulation was the Speaker’s ruling to choose the LoP. The ruling is inconsistent with the law ‘the salary and allowances of leaders of opposition in Parliament Act, 1977’ which only says that the largest opposition party should get the post,” Mr. Kurien told The Hindu.

He added that if the Congress was to move the court they will easily win, though it is for the party to decide.

The Act says, “Leader of the Opposition” is the “Leader in that House of the party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength and recognised as such by the Chairman of the Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People, as the case may be.”

In 1984 when Congress got 404 seats in Lok Sabha, it did not concede the position of LoP to Telugu Desam Party which was the second largest party with 30 seats in Lok Sabha. The “10%” rule was in fact brought in 1985 by the then Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar to deny the position to TDP.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 9:01:04 AM |

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