From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : LoP and its appointment
Mains level : Importance of LoP
- A national political party has stated that it will not stake claim for the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament since it is short of the necessary numbers to be eligible for the position.
- The second largest party in the house after the majority only has 52 members which is three short of the necessary figure.
Leader of Opposition
- The LOP is leader of the largest party that has not less than one-tenth of the total strength of the house.
- It is a statutory post defined in the Salaries and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.
- The Act says that LoP is the Leader in that House of the party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength and recognised as such by the Chairman/Speaker of the House.
- In Lok Sabha, total strength is 545 members so any party that has 55 members can get the post as recognised as such by the speaker/chairman.
Importance of LoP: The shadow PM
- The Westminster model that India follows the opposition is a recognizable entity and the LoP is referred to as the ‘shadow Prime Minister’.
- She/he is expected to be ready to take over if the government falls.
- The LoP also plays an important role in bringing cohesiveness and effectiveness to the opposition’s functioning in policy and legislative work.
- The procedure for recognising the leader of the opposition is well laid down.
- On a request being made by the numerically largest party in the opposition, its designated leader be recognised as the leader of the opposition.
- After the request is examined by her or his secretariat, the speaker/chairman accords recognition to that person.
Legal position of 10% Formulation
- The point to note here is that the statute gives the numerically largest party in the opposition the right to have a leader recognised as leader of the opposition by the speaker.
- Former Deputy Chairman of RS P.J. Kurien pointed that legally the party is entitled to the position.
- The 10% formulation is inconsistent with the law ‘the salary and allowances of leaders of opposition in Parliament Act, 1977’ which only says that the largest opposition party should get the post.
- The “10%” rule was in fact brought in 1985 by the then LS Speaker Balram Jakhar to deny the position to a party from then Andhra Pradesh.
- No matter whosoever gets the majority, the LoP is critical to effective functioning of the opposition in the Parliament.
- Now that there is a law recognising the LoP, passed by the Parliament, it has to be enforced and
- LoP plays a crucial role in bringing bipartisanship and neutrality to the appointments in institutions of accountability and transparency – CVC, CBI, CIC, Lokpal etc.
- It can’t be overlooked or undermined, no matter what the flexibility or ambiguity that exist in the legal framework.