Sonia Gandhi and many others are arguing on the basis of 1977 act which doesn’t specify any minimum number for a party to be the official leader of opposition. Rather it says largest party of the opposition in terms of number of members. If two or more parties in opposition have same numbers, then speaker has the discretion. But the Congress really fails to answer why there was no recognized Leader of Opposition from 22 December 1979 to 18th December 1989. Wasn’t it because of the Congress’s brute majority in Lok Sabha simply overruled the provision of 1977 act?
Anyway, the Leader of Opposition particularly in Lok Sabha has a prime important role to play these days, as it has key role in appointment of many Statutory and Constitutional posts such as CVC chief, Lokpal and even in coming days, the CBI director.
Thus Narendra Modi government must take a holistic view on this and shouldn’t become intolerant to the opposition. It’s also learned that BJP government is planning for an amendment to incorporate LOP (RS) if there is no LOP (LS). But I think in the present era, where coalition somehow exists, the 1998 act might be modified to largest individual party if it has more than 10% seat or largest pre-poll alliance if it has obtained more than 10% seats.
Democracy always functions well if there is an opposition. No formal opposition and sometimes brute majority of ruling party make the government autocratic and sometimes have monopolies. That is against the spirit of the democracy. In this time, at least there is a check in Rajya Sabha because the ruling NDA doesn’t have the majority.
I would say, NDA government should propose to speaker to accept either Congress's demand of LOP scrapping the 1998 spanner or incorporating the term of pre-poll alliance having numbers more than 10%. If government wants to take all on board, it has to extend its respect to opposition despite their poor performance in the elections!
Wish Narendra Modi would do better in the interest of democracy and advise speaker to appoint if not the Congress leader, then a UPA leader as LOP (LS).
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