NEW DELHI: Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi on Friday sent his opinion on the Leader of Opposition post to the Lok Sabha Speaker and said the Congress party was not eligible for it.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had sought the opinion of the AG in the issue after the Congress repeatedly demanded that it be given the post.
According to sources, the AG in his opinion said, “Congress is not eligible for the post of Leader of Opposition. They need at least 55 seats to get the Leader of Opposition status.” The Congress has only 44 seats.
“The Congress does not have the numbers to claim the post,” the AG said. He also added that the party “is not eligible as it does not have the required 10 per cent (55 seats) in the 543-member Lok Sabha” the sources said. To back his opinion, the AG cited the fact that there is no precedence where a party was given the LoP position — the status of a Cabinet minister — without meeting the criteria of 10 per cent seats since the days of the first LS when G V Mavlankar was the Speaker, they said. Even during the time of Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress with over 400 seats had refused to grant LoP status to the TDP for the same reason, the AG has told Mahajan.
The AG is also learnt to have rejected the contention that the LoP status could be given to the leader of the Congress-led UPA coalition since there is no such precedence. The UPA has 60 members in the House.
Mahajan, who has been facing a tough situation on taking a call on the tricky issue, has said that she would consult legal and constitutional experts besides experienced persons before making a decision.
Asserting that the post of the LoP is its right, the Congress had accused the government of playing petty politics over the issue.
LS Secretariat officials refused to comment on the issue.