In her first comments on the imbroglio over giving the post of Leader of the Opposition to the Congress, its chief Sonia Gandhi Monday said the party was “entitled” to get the status as it was the single-largest party in the Opposition and leader of the second biggest pre-poll alliance.
The Congress has also secured support of its allies and the UPA MPs were set to write to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan seeking an immediate decision on the matter. “We are the single largest party. We have got a pre-poll alliance. Hence, we are entitled to Leader of Opposition’s post,” said Sonia, also the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party. She, however, said the party was yet to take a call on approaching the court if the Speaker denies it the status.
Sonia rejected the BJP’s argument that the Congress has not reconciled to the defeat and was desperate for the post. “That is not true. We have lost the elections. We are aware of that,” she said.
Senior Congress leader and its deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, however, said the party would exercise all options to ensure a “democratically correct and logical conclusion” to the issue and did not rule out the possibility of approaching court in the matter. He said UPA MPs will write to the Speaker demanding an immediate decision.
Congress general secretary, Ambika Soni as well as its deputy leader in Lok Sabha Amarinder Singh said G V Mavlankar’s ruling that a party should have 10 per cent of the total seats to qualify for the Leader of the Opposition post does not hold good now. Mavlankar was India’s first Lok Sabha Speaker.
“At that time, bodies like the Lokpal, CIC and CVC were not there. The Leader of the Opposition is a key member of the panel to select CIC, CVC and NHRC chairman. How can there be no Leader of the Opposition,” Soni argued.
Sharma said, “No ruling of the Speaker can substitute or override an Act of Parliament. Anybody saying so lacks elementary understanding of the law and the statute.” He was referring to the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.
“The thinking is undemocratic… The government is trying to subvert the appointments of Lokpal, CVC and other key posts by denying the LoP status to Congress,” he said. Sharma accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to confuse people and the media by citing the ruling of Mavalankar. “These are fallacious arguments. They will not stand scrutiny.”