NEW DELHI: Apparently bullied by the denial of Leader of Opposition (LoP) post in the Lok Sabha to the Congress, party president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met President Pranab Mukherjee.
Before his elevation to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee was not only the Congress’ chief trouble-shooter, but also Sonia’s sounding board for politics. Hence the meeting assumes significance.
Sonia, who had publicly pitched for the LoP post stating that her party deserved it, also held a meeting of her party MPs, who had decided to write to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, seeking an immediate decision on the issue. The Congress, which has 44 members in the 543-member Lok Sabha, is also seeking letter of support from its pre-poll allies to take the number to 59. Meanwhile, there is a move to recognise the AIADMK and BJD, with 57 MPs together, as another opposition bloc.
AIADMK leader M Thambidurai had been already offered the post of Deputy Speaker, while the Public Accounts Committee chairmanship could go to the BJD. The two parties have stated that they want to play the role of a “constructive opposition”, charting their own path. They had on Monday kept away from the Congress, SP, RJD and TMC protest in the House against the price rise.
In this backdrop, the urgency shown by the Congress could be understood. The LoP position has acquired much heft over the past one decade. Then LoP Sushma Swaraj had successfully scuttled the appointment of P J Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commission in the UPA tenure.
The LoP would have a say in the appointment of the Lokpal, when it takes place.
The Congress has made it clear that it would exercise all options to ensure a “democratically correct, logical conclusion” on the issue. The grand old party has not ruled out the option of approaching the court on the matter.
Sources close to Sonia, however, said her meeting with the President was a “courtesy call”. She had been calling on Mukherjee regularly ever since he became the President in July 2012, they pointed out.