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Why Rahul Gandhi may not get the post of leader of opposition

Saturday, 17 May 2014 - 2:00pm IST | Agency: dna

Much worse in store for the Congress as it is not in a position to claim the post of Leader of Opposition (LoP) for its leader Rahul Gandhi as the party is has just won 44 seats. As per rules, the party needs 10 per cent seats of the Lok Sabha (54) seats to obtain the status. When contacted, officers at the Lok Sabha secretariat told dna that in case the Congress doesn't cross 54 mark, there will be no LoP officially, but the party can declare him a leader as TDP had done by nominating P Upendra as its leader after 1984 elections. The TDP then had highest tally of 40 after the Congress (400 seats) in the House, but short of claiming the post of LoP.

There will be different opposition parties and each will have their own leader. But there won't be a single recognised opposition leader with the perks, salaries and allowances that are the same as a cabinetminister.
Over the years, the role of the LoP has attained much significance. He or she is the member of the highest selection panel to choose the CVC and Lokpal. This time without a leader of the opposition, the new minister of parliamentary affairs may allow the leader of largest opposition party to sit in the panel. In the first three parliaments, when Congress was dominant, there was no officially recognised leader of opposition.

The post of recognised LoP also comes with perks, staff, their salaries and other facilities and amenities under the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977. Besides, the Speaker provides certain facilities to the Leader of the Opposition, like a seat in Lok Sabha in the front row left to the Chair next to the seat of Deputy Speaker, and a room in Parliament House with Secretariat and other facilities. The Leader of the Opposition also enjoys certain privileges on ceremonial occasions like escorting the Speaker -elect to the rostrum.

The outgoing Leader of the Oppostion Sushma Swaraj had a staff of 8 members with Satish C Gupta, an IAS officer as her private secretary. Even if the Speaker or the ministry of parliamentary affairs recognises Rahul Gandhi as the LoP, he may not be given the facilities, staff and an office in the Parliament House premises as Swaraj had enjoyed.

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