New Delhi: With the Supreme Court asking the Central government to make its stand clear on the Leader of Opposition issue, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday sought to justify the denial of the post to the Congress citing precedents and insisted that the matter was ultimately under the purview of the legislature.
Referring to previous seven times when there was no Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said it is the job of the legislature to decide on the issue and the matter was in the Speaker's domain, who had taken the right decision.
"In matters of legislature, the Parliament is supreme and it has to do its work as per rules and traditions. Parliament, which lays rules and procedure, only will decide on Leader of Opposition. We respect the judiciary, but it is still the job of the legislature to decide on the issue," the BJP leader said.
The Speaker is the chief of the people's representatives and has decided on the issue as per rules and precedents, he said.
"Congress was following wrong traditions and when the right tradition is being followed it is raising a hue and cry," he said.
"In a democracy, people of the country decide who will rule and who will be in the opposition. As per the Constitution, the democracy is for the people and by the people,” he added.
Hussain, who lost the Lok Sabha elections to RJD candidate Shailesh Kumar from Bhagalpur, said, "People have decided that Narendra Modi will be the leader of the country while they considered Congress as not deserving even to hold the Leader of Opposition's post. This is not the first time it has happened… then why such 'hangama' (uproar).”
"Parliament is the soul of any democracy. In a representative form of democracy, can anybody change that collective wisdom of people. If people of India have given a verdict, the country has to respect that,” the BJP leader added.
Meanwhile, other BJP leaders also voiced the same opinion on the issue.
Meenakshi Lekhi, party leader who from the high profile New Delhi parliamentary constituency, said, "The country has seen precedents. Seven times there have been no Leader of Opposition. You ought to have the right to get that post.”
Lekhi also sought to question why the Congress did not give the Leader of Opposition status to others the previous seven times when it was in power.
She said in the matter of selection of statutory bodies when there is no recognized LoP, the government will maintain transparency by evolving a system by either including the leader of the largest party in the Lok Sabha or by other means.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked the Congress to honour the decision of the Speaker not to grant the status of Leader of Opposition to it in the Lok Sabha.
"As per the Constitution, a party must get 10 per cent seat for Leader of Opposition status. But unfortunately it did not happen. So, they should accept it," Singh said.
Another BJP spokesperson, Nalin Kohli, said the Congress must introspect as to why the people have not given it the numbers required to get the Leader of Opposition post and that it cannot be given to them on the basis of ‘politics of entitlement'.
"...This cannot be given on the basis of politics of entitlement. Whatever happens will be on basis of rules, tradition and constitutional position," he said.
The reaction came in the wake of the Supreme Court deciding to go into the issue of interpreting the provision of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha in matter of selection of statutory bodies when there is no recognized LoP and asked the government to make its stand clear on the issue within two weeks.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha emphasized the importance of the post saying Leader of Opposition conveys the voice of representation different from government in the House and is an important component under Lokpal law and the issue needs objective consideration in view of current political dispensation when there is no Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.