Congress leader Manish Tewari today said that the presence of a Leader of Opposition (LoP) in parliament is extremely essential for the country and that ignoring the issue by not appointing the same is an assault on democracy. "The presence of a Leader of Opposition is an essential part of a democracy. If the government chooses to ignore the LoP issue, it will be an assault on democracy. The Supreme Court has taken a very important step by asking the government to reply on this issue," Tewari told ANI.
Another Congress leader Rajeev Shukla also echoed similar thoughts. "I think the Supreme Court has rightly held this. The LoP is a very important position and it is a constitutional position. I think it is badly needed in the country right now," Shukla said.
The Supreme Court today asked the NDA Government at the Centre to explain why there is no Leader of Opposition in Parliament, and gave the former a month's time to come up with an answer on how it proposes to select Lokpal members, if such a post remains vacant or does not exist. The committee to select the nine members of the Lokpal is meant to include the Leader of the Opposition along with the Prime Minister and others. The apex court pointed out that the make-up of the committee is part of the law passed by Parliament that brings the Lokpal into existence.
The Congress had claimed that as the single largest opposition party, its floor leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, should be recognized as Leader of the Opposition. But Speaker Sumitra Mahajan ruled that out, citing rules that a party must have at least 55 members in the House to claim the post. The Congress has 44.