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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

LoP issue: UPA MPs to write to LS Speaker seeking quick decision

PTI  New Delhi, July 07, 2014
First Published: 21:03 IST(7/7/2014) | Last Updated: 21:08 IST(7/7/2014)

Upping the ante on the Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition issue, Congress on Monday said UPA MPs will write to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan seeking an immediate decision in the matter.

Party spokesman Anand Sharma said that Congress would exercise all options to ensure a "democratically correct and logical conclusion" to the issue and did not rule out the possibility of approaching courts in the matter.

"There is no doubt about that... 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," Sharma said when asked whether the Speaker was acting at the behest of BJP.

Sharma's remarks came at the AICC briefing on the first day of the Budget Session of Parliament after Congress chief Sonia Gandhi earlier made a strong pitch for the party being given the post.

"We are the single-largest party. We have got a pre-poll alliance. Hence, we are entitled to the Leader of Opposition's post," Gandhi, who is also the CPP chairperson, said on Monday in her first comments on the issue.

Sharma said that the letter is ready and will be sent to the Speaker after all UPA MPs had signed it.

Read: Congress should be Leader of Opposition in LS, says Sonia

"Government's intention is not correct. The thinking is undemocratic... Government is trying to subvert the appointments of Lokpal, CVC and other key posts by denying the LoP status to Congress. We will not allow that to happen. We will take all the steps in Parliament and agitate on whatever forum is available. But let the reply of the Speaker come first," he added.

Sharma's remarks on the Speaker's role in the matter came a day after senior party leader Kamal Nath charged that the Mahajan's decision regarding the Leader of Opposition's post could be "flavoured" by BJP.

Sharma accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to confuse people and the media by citing the ruling of the Speaker of the first Lok Sabha, GV Mavalankar, and arguing that the party seeking the post of Leader of Opposition must have 10 per cent of the total strength of the House.

"These are fallacious arguments. They will not stand scrutiny. Prime Minister and his government have said they want to govern with consensus. In action, it is otherwise.

"There is only one law -- that a party in the opposition with the largest number (of MPs) will have the LoP post. No other Act or statute has any other definition for the LoP," Sharma said.

Sharma said that the denial of the post of LoP to Congress would be "unfair, unjust and unconstitutional" and will be countered by the party at all levels.

As a senior leader put it, "Supreme Court can interpret the law made by the legislature. We will not be contesting the Speaker's ruling, but since there is already a law regarding appointment of the LoP, which supersedes all previous rulings, the court can intervene. We will win the matter if we go to court".

Congress held a meeting in the morning to finalise the strategy on the LoP issue. Sources said that a strategy group for Parliament headed by Gandhi has been set up. The group consists of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, AK Antony, Ahmed Patel and the party's leaders, deputy leaders and chief whips in both Houses.

Read: Speaker's call on Opposition leader could be biased, says Kamal Nath

Sharma accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to confuse people and the media by citing the ruling of the Speaker of the first Lok Sabha, GV Mavalankar, and arguing that the party seeking the post of Leader of Opposition must have 10 per cent of the total strength of the House.

"These are fallacious arguments. They will not stand scrutiny. Prime Minister and his government have said they want to govern with consensus. In action, it is otherwise.

"There is only one law -- that a party in the opposition with the largest number (of MPs) will have the LoP post. No other Act or statute has any other definition for the LoP," Sharma said.

Sharma said that the denial of the post of LoP to Congress would be "unfair, unjust and unconstitutional" and will be countered by the party at all levels.

As a senior leader put it, "Supreme Court can interpret the law made by the legislature. We will not be contesting the Speaker's ruling, but since there is already a law regarding appointment of the LoP, which supersedes all previous rulings, the court can intervene. We will win the matter if we go to court".

Congress held a meeting in the morning to finalise the strategy on the LoP issue. Sources said that a strategy group for Parliament headed by Gandhi has been set up. The group consists of former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, AK Antony, Ahmed Patel and the party's leaders, deputy leaders and chief whips in both Houses.

Read: Speaker to decide on LoP issue, says Naidu


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