"We have submitted a memorandum containing the signatures of 60 UPA MPs. It is for her to take a view on the matter,” Kharge said. (JPN/Agencies)
Kharge said the Congress is the single largest party and the Leader of Opposition post is now more important because it is part of the decision-making process in the appointment of CVC and Lokpal.
He said the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977, makes it abundantly clear that the single largest party should be given the status.
"Representative of the party which has the largest number in the opposition should be recognized as the Leader of Opposition. No rules can override a statute,” Kharge said.
Kharge’s meeting with the Lok Sabha Speaker came a day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi held parleys with her party MPs on the issue.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had earlier on Tuesday said the government would be happy to have a recognized Leader of Opposition in the Lower House like in the Rajya Sabha.
It is believed that the 16th Lok Sabha will have no Leader of Opposition as the Speaker has decided to strictly go by the rule book. As per rules, a party needs to bag 10 percent of the total seats for status of the Leader of Opposition. The Congress has 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.
Government dares Congress to move court
Responding to the Congress’ demand for the Leader of Opposition status in the Lok Sabha, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the ‘well-settled’ principle has been that the post is given to a party with the requisite numbers and the former is free to move ahead with its plan to raise the issue in court.
Prasad, however, maintained that the final decision in this regard is yet to be taken and the Speaker is entitled to take a call on the issue.
"As a student of Indian Parliamentary practices and as an MP for the last 14 years, these are my personal views that the party with 10 percent of the total number of members in the Lok Sabha gets the post. It is a well-settled principle. But let me clarify that the call has to be taken by the Speaker," he said on Tuesday.
Prasad said since 1953, there have been decisions of the Speaker on the issue of Leader of Opposition.
“Between 1971 and 1977 and 1980 to 1989, there was no Leader of Opposition,” he added.
Prasad further said, “In all these 60 years, the same rule...you must have 10 percent, based upon that well-settled principle. The decision had to be taken by Speakers of various shades....”
Question Hour disrupted in Parliament
Meanwhile, angry protests by the Trinamool Congress over the Rail Budget disrupted the proceedings in Lok Sabha for the second day on Wednesday. Both the Houses failed to transact business in the Question Hour.
Carrying placards, TMC members led by Kalyan Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee trooped in the Well of the Lok Sabha demanding ‘justice’ for West Bengal in the Rail Budget.
They also raised slogans condemning alleged attack on a woman party MP on Tuesday.
"We condemn undemocratic attack on opposition MPs in Lok Sabha by ruling party, 'Railway Budget main Bengal ka hissa kya huwa' (what happened to Bengal's share in Rail budget), 'Mehangai hatao, desh bachao' (end price rise, save the country)," read some of the placards.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan objected to display of placards inside the House and warned the protesting members not to force her to be tough as carrying placards was not allowed.
"I am warning you not to carry placards. Go back to your seats. Do not force me to be tough. You can raise whatever issue you want during the debate on Rail Budget," the Speaker said.
She also said all MPs regularly get bulletins, which clearly mention that placards are not allowed inside House.
Members of the Trinamool Congress, however, did not relent.
When TMC’s Kalyan Banerjee made some objectionable remarks targeting the Speaker, the entire ruling coalition stood up and strongly protested against the comments leading to adjournment of the House.
"We have submitted a memorandum containing the signatures of 60 UPA MPs. It is for her to take a view on the matter,” Kharge said.