New House cannot have Opposition leader

The post of Leader of the Opposition can go only to the leader of a political party and not to the leader of an alliance, whether formed before the election or after. Hence, neither the Congress, as the head of the pre-poll United Progressive Alliance (UPA), nor a post-poll grouping of regional parties in the new Lok Sabha can stake claim to the post, according to Subhash C. Kashyap, former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha.

A party needs 10 per cent of the strength of the House (55 in the Lok Sabha) to stake claim, and the largest Opposition, the Congress, with 44 seats is way short of that number. Although the UPA has 60 members, this is of no relevance in appointing Leader of the Opposition.

The only consolation for the Congress is that no other grouping can claim the post. Even if the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Trinamool Congress and the Biju Janata Dal come together, the leader of the group will not be entitled to the post.

“They can only be leaders in the Opposition, not the Leader of the Opposition,” Mr. Kashyap says.

According to him, it would be “highly irregular” to give the post to the leader of any party in the current Lok Sabha as no party meets the minimum requirement of seats. Besides, public funds are involved: the Leader of the Opposition enjoys the rank of a Cabinet Minister with all attendant perks and benefits.

This is not the first time that the Lok Sabha would be without a Leader of the Opposition. Until 1969, no party qualified for the post. Between 1980 and 1989 too, no party had the requisite numbers.

As for the post of Deputy Speaker, it is given to the Opposition by convention.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 3:44:13 PM |

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