Mechanism to choose Leader of the Opposition

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By admin June 20, 2019 18:44

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In each House of Parliament, there is the ‘Leader of the Opposition’.

the leader of the largest Opposition party having not less than one-tenth seats of the total strength of the House is recognized as the leader of the Opposition in that House.

In a parliamentary system of government, the leader of the opposition has a significant role to play. His main functions are to provide constructive criticism of the policies of the government and to provide an alternative government.

Therefore, the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were accorded statutory recognition in 1977.

The same functionary in the USA is known as the ‘minority leader’.

The British political system has a unique institution called the ‘Shadow Cabinet’. It is formed by the Opposition party to balance the ruling cabinet and to prepare its members for future ministerial offices.

In this shadow cabinet, almost every member in the ruling cabinet is ‘shadowed’ by a corresponding member in the opposition cabinet. This shadow cabinet serves as the ‘alternate cabinet’ if there is a change of government. That is why Ivor Jennings described the leader of Opposition as the ‘alternative Prime Minister’. He enjoys the status of a minister and is paid by the government.

Recognition of Leader of Opposition (LoP)

The Leader of Opposition is a constitutional appointment and is part of the Central Vigilance Commission, Central Information Commission, National Human Rights Commission, and National Judicial Appointments Commission.

According to parliamentary rules, the largest Opposition party in the House needs at least 10% of the total strength of the Lok Sabha, or 55 seats, to be eligible for the LoP (Leader of Opposition) post.

Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977 extends to LoPs in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha the same official status, allowances, and perks that are admissible to Cabinet Ministers.

However, the recognition of LoP is subject to recognition by the speaker.

In the 16th Lok Sabha, Leader of Congress (the largest opposition party) was not recognized as a leader of the opposition as with 44 seats, it was falling short of the required numbers.

Until 1977, there were no emoluments and perks attached to the position of LoP.

The requirement of 55 members as an essential pre-requisite has not been prescribed by the 1977 act.

It depends upon the discretion of speaker under Direction 121(c) and Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognised Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act, 1998.

Parliament (Facilities) Act, 1998 provides recognition to a party in the Lok Sabha as a party that has not less than 55 members.

In 2019 Lok Sabha elections too, the Congress with 51 MPs so far appears to be the largest Opposition party, still falling short of the required number at 55.

 

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admin
By admin June 20, 2019 18:44