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Congress brings up need for having LoP in Lok Sabha

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New Delhi (Sept 19, 2014): Congress again raked up the need for having a Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha on Friday, insisting that it was not a titular position and is required to form a "shadow cabinet".

Party General Secretary C P Joshi cited the Page Committee report on the role of Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition and Whips.

He said the report clearly explains that if the constituent group forming a party for the proper functioning of the House with a view to strengthening parliamentary democracy, have a common programme, common organisation and have one leader and one whip, there is no objection to necessary recognition being given to that party.

"This applies both to government and opposition parties and no distinction can be made between a government party and an opposition party similarly formed," he said in a statement.

The Page Committee report also states that the leader of the largest recognised Opposition party -- whether a regular party or a party composed of different parties or groups -- should be recognised as Leader of the Opposition.

"It is pertinent to note here that the Congress party submitted to the Speaker with signature of 60 MPs which included Congress leaders and members of its allies in order to stake claim on the Leader of the Opposition post," he said.

Joshi said the Supreme Court has also questioned the central government over the issue of appointing LoP and said it will give a larger interpretation to the concept of the opposition leader if the government failed to resolve the issue.

The Leader of the Opposition conveys the voice of the people different from that of the government, said the apex court, raising questions regarding the absence of a recognised opposition leader in the Lower House.

Noting that the presence of opposition is bulwark of a true democracy, he said the LoP is necessary to not just criticise and review the actions of the government, but to ensure that all legislations receive the due process of parliamentary deliberations.

"I hope better sense prevails," he said.

The Page Committee report states that "there may be several parties in opposition, but the Opposition means the second main party temporarily in a minority, with leaders experienced in office, who are ready when the time arises, to form an alternative government."

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had rejected Congress' demand for LoP status citing rules and tradition.