With the Congress tally in the Lok Sabha at an all-time low of 44, the ruling BJP hopes to further divide the Opposition ranks by offering plum posts in an effort to win their support in the Rajya Sabha where it lacks majority.
A day ahead of elections for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker, the party’s managers said they would try to placate non-NDA parties with positions that are conventionally held by the Opposition.
While the Speaker will decide whether there should be an official Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, posts like Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance are also generally left for the Opposition.
Sources indicated that the BJP would distribute these posts among the prominent Opposition parties, including the Congress, AIADMK, TMC and BJD. “Obviously these positions will not go to a single party,” said a BJP source, admitting that they would, however, be given to Opposition parties.
Party sources said this would help the BJP keep the non-Congress parties in good humour, enabling them to seek their occasional cooperation in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP finds itself lacking in numbers as compared to the Congress-led UPA.
In fact, the Congress may have to strike a bargain with the BJP for the position of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, after the Speaker is elected on Friday.
In the last Lok Sabha, BJP leader Karia Munda was the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, Murli Manohar Joshi was PAC chairman and Yashwant Sinha was the chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance. While the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha is a non-partisan post, both Joshi and Sinha used their positions to put the then UPA government in uncomfortable situations.
Joshi used the PAC to corner the government on the 2G spectrum allocation case, while Sinha’s panel almost grounded the ambitious Aadhaar project by red-flagging the legal status of the UIDAI. The BJP also used the Sinha panel’s recommendations on FDI in pension and insurance sectors to oppose the UPA government’s attempts to liberalise the insurance sector to woo FDI investment.
The fact that Joshi and Sinha were both from the BJP added to the UPA’s woes. So the BJP now plans to distribute these posts among different parties from the Opposition.