The post of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Lok Sabha is the "right of Congress", the party said today while expressing confidence that Speaker Sumitra Mahajan will take a decision in their favour in this regard when the next Parliament session begins in July.
The assertion today by Congress general secretary and spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed came a day after Mahajan said that she will take a decision on the LoP's post after studying the rules, regulations and precedents related to the matter.
Citing provisions from 'The Salary and Allowances of Leaders Of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977, And Rules Made Thereunder (as amended up to December, 2002), Ahmed said that the leader of the party in opposition which has the greatest numerical strength gets the post of LoP.
Where there are two opposition parties with the same strength, the chairman of the House decides whom to appoint as LoP. Although it has been contended that Congress does not have the required number of 55 MPs -- or 10 per cent of the total strength of the 543-member Lower House -- to claim the LoP post for itself, Ahmed said there was no such rule. He said that while such an observation was made by GV Mavalankar, the first Lok Sabha Speaker, it stands superseded by the aforementioned Act of Parliament which makes it clear that there is no 10 per cent stipulation. There were earlier indications that the government may not give the LoP post to Congress in keepinig with the Mavalankar formula.
Ahmed, however, said that there was "absolutely no role for the government" to decide in the matter and Congress is confident that Mahajan, a veteran eight-term parliamentarian, will announce an LoP from the party when the new session begins. "When Congress, with 44 members, is the largest Opposition party, there is no question of it not getting the LoP's post. I think the Speaker will announce Congress for the LoP post... I do not think there should be any controversy about it. LoP post in Lok Sabha is the right of Congress as per the Act," Ahmed said.