NEW DELHI: Controversy continues over the Congress getting the Leader of Opposition (LoP) status in Lok Sabha, as the Budget Session begins on Monday.
Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath has said that the party must take legal recourse, if denied post by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, while Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu insists all must abide by the presiding officer’s decision.
In what could invite more controversy over the issue, Nath has said Mahajan’s “decision could be flavoured by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, as there is no rule which says that a party cannot get the LoP, if it gets less than 10 percent seats in Lok Sabha. He also said that party should explore the option of moving court in this matter.
It seems both the Congress and BJP are adamant over the issue, and neither is ready to back down. The controversy could shadow the long budget session.
The BJP has cited that the Congress did not give the LoP status during Indira Gandhi’s and Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure at the Centre.
Reacting to Nath’s view on moving court, Naidu said that everyone must adhere to the Speaker’s decision, as it will be taken on the basis of conventions, rules and regulations, and precedents. “They have every right to go to court as Constitution permits it. One can also go to court for not getting the Prime Minister’s post. People’s court has already given a mandate, and these things cannot be decided by judiciary,” Naidu said.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, for whom the party wants the Leader of the Opposition post, indicated on Saturday that Abhishek Manu Singhvi would be making a presentation before the Speaker on the issue.
Singhvi, through his presentation, is expected to cite the provisions of the 1997 Salaries and Allowances of the Leader of Opposition, amended twice in 1997 and 2003, during the non-Congress/BJP regimes, where it defines the post as one that is given to the largest Opposition party in the house (both in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha). Not only that, he is also expected to put forth the Congress demand to be recognised as part of the UPA, a pre-poll alliance, with 59 MPs and not 44, as is being said.
The Speaker, who had earlier said that a decision on the issue will be taken before the Budget session, after consultation with Constitutional experts, did not take up the issue in the all-party meet held on Saturday.
The Congress managed to get 44 seats in Lok Sabha polls, and according to the BJP, it is less than the required 10 percent of the total strength to make the party eligible for the LoP post.
The highlight of the session is the presentation of the first budget by the Modi Government amidst signals that the issue of price rise could generate heat. The Opposition also has a number of issues to target the government, including the controversy over the government rejecting Gopal Subramanium as the SC judge, the rape case against Union Minister Nihalchand and rising incidents of atrocities against women in the country.