Congress demand for LoP status in Lok Sabha rejected

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 20 2014, 08:53am hrs
The Congress demand for Leader of Opposition status for its group chief in Lok Sabha was on Tuesday rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

I have gone by rules and tradition, she told PTI on her decision not to recongnise the Congress leader in Lok Sabha as the Leader of the Opposition.

The Speaker's decision rejecting the Congress demand has been conveyed in a letter to the Congress party. Congress President Sonia Gandhi had written to Mahajan seeking the status of the Leader of Opposition to Mallikarjun Kharge who is the party's group leader in the House.

The Speaker had also taken the opinion of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who had said that Congress does not have the numbers necessary for its floor leader to be granted the status of Leader of Opposition.

Congress is the second largest party in the Lok Sabha with 44 seats after BJP's 282 and has been insisting that it should be given the status of Leader of Opposition.

However, the Speaker, citing rules, has conveyed to the Congress that she was not in a position to give the party Leader of Opposition status because it fell short of the minimum 55 seats required to stake claim to the post. Mahajan is also believed to have cited the precedents in 1980 and 1984 when there was no recognised Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha.

The Leader of the Opposition in both the Houses of Parliament enjoys the status of a Cabinet Minister.

Reacting to the decision, Kharge said he would consult the Congress high command and the AICC legal cell before giving his opinion. Being recognised as Leader of the Opposition is one thing and functioning as floor leader is another, he said.