Newly-appointed speaker Sumitra Mahajan will decide on who will be the leader of opposition (LOP) in Lok Sabha or whether there would be one at all.
"We will take a decision after taking into consideration precedents in the case," she told reporters after taking over as the second women speaker, after Meira Kumar, of the lower house of Parliament.
Selecting a parliamentarian who would lead the opposition has become difficult because no political group, other than BJP, has the number of seats needed to qualify as a 'party' recognised by speaker.
With 44 MPs, the Congress is the second largest party in the Lok Sabha after the BJP and intends to lay claim to the office of LOP. But to accomplish that, it has to face hurdles in the form of two laws and a directive of the speaker in 1969.
The law of 1977 defines the LOP as a leader of the party having the greatest numerical strength and recognised by speaker. But another law --- the Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognised Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act of 1998 --- defines a recognised party the one which has a minimum of 55 members in the house.
The Congress fails to fulfill the criteria as it has only 44 members in the 543 member house. The party, however, qualifies for a group, as it has the required 30 seats. But that does not guarantee the leader of opposition post to its leader.
Another hurdle faces the Congress. A speaker's directive of 1969 stipulates that a party with 10% of members of the total strength of the house can stake claim for the post of LOP.
Dr Ram Subhag Singh, then Congress MP from Buxar in the fourth Lok Sabha, was the first to be appointed as LOP on December 17, 1969, when Indira Gandhi had split the Congress.
YB Chavan was the second leader to become LOP on July 1, 1977 during the Janta Party rule.
Seventh and eighth Lok Sabhas were without a LOP because the Congress had registered massive victories and no other party had won more than 10% vote.
The Janta Party (Secular), which had 41 MPs in the seventh Lok Sabha was denied the LoP post.
Only since the ninth Lok Sabha, which was constituted on December 2, 1989, the Parliament is having a leader of opposition.