New Delhi: Congress today said it will comply with all formalities to get the status of the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha even as the party has been kept on tenterhooks on the issue ahead of Budget Session beginning on Monday.
"We are ready to do all formalities," senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said after Congress President Sonia Gandhi held parleys with top leaders at her residence 10 Janpath.
Azad, who is Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, insisted that the Leader of the Opposition post in Lok Sabha is essential for selection of several high offices like Lokpal.
"We are not just asking for the post for a representative of the party but it is a constitutional requirement in the selection process of several high offices," he said.
Azad further pointed out that the concerned Act of 1977 does not speak of any requisite number for a party to get the post. "So the Act will prevail over the rules (which speak of a party requiring 10 per cent of total number of seats to claim LoP)," he said.
Azad's remarks are significant as they have come at a time when a section of the party is of the view that it should approach the court if the demand is rejected.
A senior party functionary speaking separately on the condition of anonymity, said that LoP post is the right of Congress as it is the single largest party and it has a strong case to test the Modi government in this matter.
While the Congress President held parleys with top leaders A K Antony, Ahmed Patel, Sushilkumar Shinde, Leader of the party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Deputy Leader Amrinder Singh, chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia, Azad, and Deputy Leader of the party in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, Rahul Gandhi separately met with a number of general secretaries at his 12 Tughlaq Lane residence.
The meetings were held on a day when Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan steered clear of the issue of grant of Leader of Opposition status in the House to Congress despite the party appearing to raise the pitch for it.
Significantly, a Union Minister today remarked that how could the Speaker decide on the matter when the Congress is yet to formally seek the status.
After the party discussed the floor strategy in the top level meetings, Azad indicated that the issue of price rise will be the prominent one that would be raised by the Opposition given the fact that Narendra Modi came to power by raising the issue of inflation under the UPA rule.
"Modi and the BJP would have been under 100 if they had not exploited the sentiments of people on the issue of price rise," he said.
"We will be both constructive and offensive depending upon the interest of the people. If some promises to the people are not being implemented then we will definitely be offensive," Azad added.
The high-level meetings have also come in the backdrop of speculation about imminent organisational changes in the party. The Congress Vice President is learnt to have discussed the political situation in Maharashtra, Haryana and Assam, where there was talk about a change of guard sometime back.
However, a party functionary, who attended the meeting with Rahul Gandhi, downplayed talks of a change of guard in states.
Those who met Gandhi included AICC general secretary in-charge for Haryana, Delhi and Punjab Shakeel Ahmed, Mohan Prakash, who is looking after Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, and CP Joshi, looking after West Bengal, Bihar and Assam.