Nothing new in weak Opposition

This is not the first time in the history of Indian parliamentary elections that the Opposition has been rendered insignificant due to an outstanding performance by one party.

Nearly half of the Lok Sabha elections have not seen a single party winning 10 per cent of the membership of the House. The first time any party managed to get the Opposition status and the Leader of the Opposition post was in 1969 — halfway into the fourth Lok Sabha — and that, too, because of a split in the Congress. Before the split, the Swatantra Party had the largest presence in the fourth Lok Sabha with a haul of 44 seats.

In the earlier Lok Sabhas, it was the Communist Party of India which used to send the biggest contingent to the Opposition: 16 in 1951, 27 in 1957 and 29 in 1962.

The Opposition was back to a pre-1969 situation after the 1971 elections and there was no Leader of the Opposition till 1977. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had the maximum number of representatives with a tally of 25.

The post-Emergency rout of the Congress in the sixth Lok Sabha elections in 1977 saw it bagging the Opposition status and Leader of the Opposition post with 154 seats. But the Opposition was once again decimated and fragmented in the next general elections in 1980 when the Congress returned to power with 353 seats and the Janata Party (Secular) came a distant second with 41 members.

The next Lok Sabha remained devoid of a Leader of the Opposition when the Congress amassed its biggest haul ever of 414 seats following Indira Gandhi’s assassination. In this House, it was not a national party but the Telugu Desam Party which had the second largest group of 30.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 9:25:55 AM |

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