Trends indicate for the first time that Congress, leading only in 47 seats at 3 pm IST, will not only lose power but will be ineligible to nominate a Leader of the Opposition (LOP).
A party needs to win at least 10% of the Lok Sabha seats to obtain the status. If current trends hold, the Congress Parliamentary party leader will not be eligible for the position.
Subash Kashyap, an eminent constitutional expert who has served as Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha, told HT, that if the number are below 54, this would mean there would be no one leader of opposition.
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"There will be different opposition parties and each will have their own leader. But there won't be a single recognised opposition leader with the perks, salaries and allowances that are the same as a cabinet minister."
The LOP serves on several important committees, including the selection panels for the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Central Bureau of Investigation Director, and members of the Lokpal.
But the legal framework has taken into account a situation where there is officially no LOP. In such cases, the leader of the single largest group in opposition in the Lok Sabha -- still the Congress in this case -- will function as leader of the bloc.
In 1984, the Telegu Desam Party was the second largest party, with 30 seats, after Congress won over 400 seats, and acted as the de facto LOP. In the first four parliaments, when Congress was dominant and before it split, there was no officially recognised leader of opposition, added Kashyap.
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