After the drubbing in the recent general election, the Congress’ presence in the coveted first row of the Lok Sabha may be reduced to just two members—Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party’s Leader in the House Mallikarjun Kharge.
On the other hand, some allies of the NDA may benefit and occupy places in the front row. The ruling dispensation may be allotted as many as 12 out of the 19 seats of the prime row.
In the last Lok Sabha, the Congress had seven seats and even accommodated former Prime Minister HD Devegowda and key ally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad in the first row out of its quota.
The seat arrangement for the members is set to be decided soon and according to the formula of allotment, the Congress is headed for a drastically shrunk presence unless some parties like JD(U) or Left throw in their lot to spruce up the strength of a Congress-led bloc.
“If Rahul Gandhi wishes to lead his party from the front benches, he may find it very difficult,” said a source. Gandhi, however, had confined himself to the back rows in the two previous Lok Sabhas. During the first session of the new Lok Sabha too, he preferred to be a backbencher.
In fact, a Left MP had nudged Gandhi to take a front row seat instead of sitting at the back.
The Lok Sabha secretariat will soon send letters to different political parties seeking their nominations against the quotas in each row.
AIADMK, BJP and TMC, who are emerging as a block, are set to bag two seats in the front row as well.