New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahahan has rejected the Congress demand that its leader in the house Mallikarjun Kharge be accorded the status of leader of opposition (LoP), informed sources said Tuesday.
The sources said said the speaker had gone "by the rules and precedents" in her decision and this was conveyed to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a letter. The speaker wrote the letter in response to a communication from the Congress.
The sources said that Mahajan, in the letter Aug 14, conveyed that the status of leader of opposition cannot be given to the party.
Mahajan is also believed to have cited precedents when there was no recognised leader of opposition in Lok Sabha since the main opposition party did not have the requisite numbers.
The sources said the speaker had also based her decision on the advice of constitutional and legal experts.
The speaker had sought the opinion of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who had held the Congress leader in the house cannot be recognised as leader of opposition as the party's strength was 44 while one tenth of the total strength of the house was 55.
According to Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognized Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act, 1998, a recoginsed party in relation to the house of people (Lok Saba) means every party which has a strength of not less than 55 members in the house.
The Congress, with 44 members, is the second largest party in the Lok Sabha after Bharatiya Janata Party which won 282 seats in the general election.
The Congress had written to Mahajan seeking the status of the leader of opposition for Kharge but the BJP-led government was not positively inclined towards the Congress demand.
The leader of the opposition in both the houses of parliament enjoys the status of a Cabinet minister.
The status of the post in Lok Sabha has gained significance in the light of the incumbent's role in appointments to bodies such as the Central Information Commission and the Central Vigilance Commission.
Officials said that there were provisions for certain appointments allowing participation of the leader of the opposition or the leader of largest party in Lok Sabha.