Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge today met Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and formally staked the party's claim to the post of Leader of Opposition in the House, an issue that has got embroiled in a controversy. "We have submitted a memorandum containing the signatures of 60 UPA MPs. It is for her to take a view on the matter", Kharge told reporters after the meeting. He was asked what time the Congress expected a decision on the issue.
Deputy leader of the Congress Amarinder Singh, who along with party chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia accompanied Kharge, felt there would be no problem in taking an early decision in the wake of the memorandum. "I do not think there will be any problem," he said.
Asked about the reasoning given by the party in the memorandum, Kharge said the Speaker has been told that the Congress is the single largest party and the Leader of the Opposition post is now more important because of the LoP being part of the decision-making process in the appointment of CVC and Lokpal. He said the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977, makes it abundantly clear that the single largest party should be given the LoP post. "Representative of the party which has the largest number in the opposition should be recognised as the Leader of the Opposition", he said, adding no rules can override a statute.
Kharge's meeting with the Speaker came a day after Congress President Sonia Gandhi held a meeting with party MPs on the issue.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had only yesterday said the government would be happy to have a recognised LoP in the House like in the Rajya Sabha. He had also said that he regretted that even without formally staking claim, some Congress leaders were talking of going to courts on the issue.
Congress has 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.