Congress Makes a Pitch For Leader of Opposition’s Post
NEW DELHI : Leader of the Opposition (LOP) in the Lok Sabha plays an important role in the selection of constitutional functionaries such as the Lokpal, and the Congress said that it would be “undemocratic” if the ruling alliance denies them a say in making key appointments.
“If, in the appointment of Lokpal, they ignore the Congress party, which has secured more than 19 per cent votes in this Lok Sabha polls, one per cent more than what the BJP had got in last election, it would not only be unfortunate but also undemocratic,” AICC communication department chairman Ajay Maken said on Thursday.
He was responding to reports that Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, in consultation with the government’s floor managers, had decided against having any LOP in the 16th Lok Sabha after factoring in past practices and precedence.
Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), too, backed the Congress’ claims over the post. “In 2010, our party had given the LOP status to Adbul Bari Siddiqui of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), though his party did not have the numbers,” party general secretary K C Tyagi said.
In the Lok Sabha elected last month, no party has that number. The Congress in its worst performance till date with 44 seats is the largest Opposition party, closely followed by J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK at 37. According to Parliament rules, the biggest Opposition party in the House has to have at least 10 per cent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha, or 55 seats, to be eligible for the post.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, however, steered clear of the controversy, insisting that the final decision on the demand would be taken by the Speaker.”The matter is with the Speaker. I do not want to say anything about it”, he said. The Modi-led government had earlier said it would study precedence to decide whether or not to allow the Congress the post of LOP.
There was no LOP in the Lok Sabha during the prime ministerships of Jawahar Lal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi, when the Congress enjoyed a brute majority.