Going leaderless

Denial of LOp post to Congress is mean-spirited. For Congress, challenge will be to make itself heard.

By: Express News Service | Published:August 21, 2014 12:05 am

After a protracted wrangle, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan has formally rejected the Congress’s claim to the post of leader of opposition in the House. This is a setback to the Congress party, even as it has yet to come to terms with its diminution to a tally of 44. The denial of LOp status may not rule out Congress participation in the panels for crucial appointments — some allow for the substitution of the LOp with the leader of the largest party of the opposition, while in others, the rules can be tweaked to allow for such a replacement. But the largest opposition party will now not be accorded primacy in House functioning. Mahajan has claimed that she had no personal discretion in the matter, and that she went by directions of past speakers and precedents where the largest opposition party was not given the post of LOp if its members constituted less than 10 per cent of the House. But by letting a restrictive reading of the rules prevail in a matter that called for a broader political and institutional view, the Narendra Modi government has done a disservice to Parliament and to itself.

To be sure, there are precedents for the speaker’s decision and it is also true that they belong to times when the Congress was in power at the Centre. But the BJP cannot point to Congress arrogance or pettiness as an excuse for its own conduct. For one, the government-opposition dynamic has been radically transformed in the years since the 1980s. The opposition space is not only more competitive and crowded, it is also bristling with greater assertiveness. It is part of an intricate and evolving system of checks and balances that seeks to prevent executive authority from becoming overweening. Also, the Modi government has just come to power at the Centre riding an unprecedented mandate. In its moment of strength, it must show greater generosity to its opponents — and more deference to democratic traditions and conventions.

The Congress would be deeply mistaken if it were to see the refusal of the post of LOp as a licence to be obstructionist in Parliament and to deny its own stakes in the peaceful running of the House. By doing so, the party would only be weakening itself further. This is, in fact, a call for the Congress to be smarter, more intelligent and strategic in marshalling its depleted resources in Parliament — to make itself heard and to hold the government to account.

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  1. D
    Aug 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm
    Who can I "chill" when the future of India is in the hands of voters who use ......... and am as part of formal communication.
  2. D
    Dipankar Sharma
    Aug 21, 2014 at 6:10 am
    ITS SIMPLE--- Citizens of India didnt give enough vote to Congress so that they can get LOP........... What more democratic ways are v looking for........ Democracy is not about 543 Members of Lok Sabha but 1.2 Billion Indians who dont Trust Congress even that much............ So chill, I as a voter am happy that Speaker has taken this decision.........
  3. M
    Aug 23, 2014 at 4:20 am
    The court is exceeding its jurisdiction. Its actually interfering with the rights of people. The people have given a mndate for congres not to be the leader of opposition, then they should abdicate it to the other parties. Besides other parties should agree to they being hoisted as Leader of opposition party. So where does this go as leader. The court of Mr. Kurien is biased and they want to show off thier power, but in democracy Parliament is supreme for their guidelines. They cannot interfere with the working of Parliament. Besides why suddenly this activism, when all these years supreme court was sleeping when controversies erupted on Lokpal???? Why biased way of thinking
  4. S
    Sandeep Gaur
    Aug 22, 2014 at 10:43 am
    LOP should not given to Congress or any other party because - - They do not wish to contribute to Nation in whatsoever manner.- They are arrogant.- What they talk, it does not makes sense.- There leader do not know what to do next.- They oppose for the sake of opposing.I would recommend that LOP post should be given to ruling party itself, in that case they will be keeping a check on themselves - rather than having s to do it.There is a hindi proverb and I do not know whats it equivalent in english- Murkh dost sei samajhdaar dushman bhala.To ab jab dushman murkh hei to why to ask him to become the guard of democracy.
  5. S
    Aug 22, 2014 at 8:01 am
    This is Majoritynism! Bye the way you are forced Smirit Irani and Arun Jaitly as top ministers of the country...did you say that their voters did not trust them?
  6. V
    V Gupta
    Aug 20, 2014 at 9:37 pm
    One has to agree wheartedly with this editorial, particularly when it calls upon Modi government not to do wrong things just because the Congress before them had done it. This is especially so when Modi's election Mantra was good governance and even now he instantly talks about taking everybody along. Modi government also dismissed some governors just because the Congress had done so earlier. Following the Congress's poor practices and precedents is hardly the way to good governance and taking everybody along. People want to believe in Modi but they want to see actions that back up his talks.
  7. V
    Aug 22, 2014 at 12:28 pm
    You are right Sunil. Both Smriti, Arun should not have been made such top ministers after getting a rebuff from people. I think Modi /BJP is going to pay a price for this in future (as if they are not paying the price already almost on daily basis ).People verdict is supreme. Janta Janardan hai. Ignore this at your own cost.Congressmen/woman namely hi (Subhas Bose) Nehru (Namboodaripad) Indira (Janta Party) Rajiv (VP Singh, Janta Dal) did not heed the people's mandate and how they suffered eventually.
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