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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

Cong may raise pitch for leader of opposition status

PTI  New Delhi, July 05, 2014
First Published: 11:32 IST(5/7/2014) | Last Updated: 13:52 IST(5/7/2014)

The Congress appears to have decided toraise the pitch in its demand for being accorded the status of the Leader of the opposition for its nominee in the Lok Sabha making it clear that the Speaker has no arbitrary powers.
    
Insisting that the powers of the Speaker are "neither arbitrary, nor unbridled or unilateral" on deciding the issue, Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said the post of the Leader of the Opposition is a "constitutional right" of Congress as the biggest the party in the opposition as also the biggest pre-poll alliance.
    
"Scuttling this right will be an affront to constituional democracy...., we sincerely hope.... will wean itself away from any such autocratic step", Surjewala told reporters here adding the Speaker is bound by tenets of parliamentary democracy.
   
"We will cross the bridge when we come to it. Why answer a hypothetical question at this juncture? We will ponder on all this. No option will ever be ruled out", Surjewala said when asked whether Congress would approach a court of law in the matter.
    
When told that the government was saying that the Speaker has to decide the issue, Surjewala remarked "we all know the Speaker also consults government of the day".

Watch: Oppn leader's post is our right, not a favour: Congress



Surjewala's remarks came on the eve of the customary meeting of leaders of political parties convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan ahead of the budget session of Parliament starting from July 7.
    
The Speaker has already said she will take a decision on the issue before the budget session after consulting constitutional experts and "experienced" persons.
    
Asked whether the Congress would write to the Speaker on the issue, Surjewala said the decision will be taken by party leaders in both the Houses after consutlations with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
    
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had met the Speaker along with a UPA delegation but later said it was a mere courtsey call and the issue did not figure in the meeting.
    
While Congress has secured 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, government managers have said it was less than the requisite strength of 10% of the House's total strength to make the party eligible to get the post.


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