Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today remained non-committal on the issue of granting Leader of the Opposition status to Congress which does not have requisite numbers.
"We will discuss the matter and take a decision. There are several precedents which I will have to study. I will have to also see at the future," Mahajan said in her maiden press conference hours after being unanimously elected Speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha. She indicated that a Deputy Speaker may not be in place during the current short session of Parliament, suggesting there was hardly any time left.
On the next budget session, Mahajan said a lot of coordination among all sections of the House would be necessary so that the budget is passed before July 28. An Interim Budget along with a vote-on-account for spending up to July was passed in February ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Asked whether new department-level standing committees would be formed to debate the budget in details, Mahajan indicated difficulties in the process as there was not much time. "Apart from formation of these parliamentary panels, there would be many first-time members who would find a place in these committees. They will have to be educated and trained on these committees so that they are able to work," she said.
Mahajan evaded a direct answer to a question whether she was for frisking of MPs in the wake of pepper spray incident in the last Lok Sabha. "You know, how I have conducted myself and maintained discipline for the past 25 years in the House. You draw your own conclusions," the mild-mannered Speaker said.
To a question on the long-pending women's reservation bill, she said, "How can I avoid women, when I am one myself.
But after being elected to this office, I have to work for all sections of the people."