NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Monday said that a decision on the Leader of Opposition post would be taken in the next four days after going through the rules and Attorney General’s letter on the matter. There has been much shadow-boxing between the ruling BJP and the Congress over the issue. The Congress has even threatened to go to court if the LoP post is denied to it on ground that the party has less than one-tenth of the total seats in the 16th Lok Sabha.
The Congress is also citing statutory provisions pertaining to the appointments of the Lokpal, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Chief Information Commissioner and such Constitutional posts.
The Speaker, however, said that she was bound by the rules and precedence and there was no scope of her exercising “personal discretion” to resolve the matter. “I will see all the rules as also the letter of Attorney General. I have to go by the rules. Within one to four days, I’m expecting (to take) a decision on this,” Mahajan said.
Giving enough hints on her line of thinking, she said: “Many a time, there was no Leader of Opposition. First LoP was only in 1969 as before that no one had 1/10th seats in Lok Sabha (other the ruling side). There was no LoP in 1980 and 1984. Now also the numbers are not adequate for LoP, so (I) have to see.” Faced with contradictory views on the issue, the Speaker sought AG Mukul Rohtagi’s view, who was categorical in his opinion that the Congress “is not eligible” for the post as there “is no precedent since the days of the first Lok Sabha where the LoP post was given to a party which did not have the minimum number of MPs”.
Despite having only 44 MPs, short of 11 to get the post, the Congress has made a strong pitch for the post citing later enactments.
A top constitutional functionary, who cannot be named, emphasising on “the Speaker’s discretion” said that the “AG’s view cannot be binding on Speaker, as he is the law officer of the Executive.”
But, indications are that the Speaker may be seriously considering the views of the AG.