The Congress-BJP face-off over the Leader of Opposition status in the Lok Sabha could cast a shadow over the proceedings of Parliament, which started its session on Monday.
The Congress is all set to take a confrontationist approach, particularly in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP is at a numerical disadvantage, after the rail and general budgets.
Rejecting the BJP government's argument that the Congress did not qualify for getting the Leader of Opposition status, the latter is planning to petition speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Tuesday. The BJP, which had said the decision would be left to the Speaker, is arguing that the Congress had not made any formal request. Government sources said this was an unusual situation where the Congress, with just 44 MPs, did not have the required 10 per cent (55 seats), but the opposition party had not made any written claim for the post.
If the Congress get its pre-poll allies on board, the number of the opposition group would rise to 59. But sources said there was no precedence to a group of parties claiming Leader of Opposition status.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said if the Speaker rejected their demand, the party might even move the apex court. The Central Vigilance Commission Act and Right to Information Act have defined Leader of Opposition as leader of largest party in opposition, irrespective of numbers, he pointed out.
The BJP cites occasions in the 80s when the Congress did not grant the status to any opposition party.