Amid the worst phase of the Indian National Congress (INC) in terms of Lok Sabha seats and status in Parliament, party president Sonia Gandhi today vowed to lead from the front and said the party would remain indomitable in its spirit. She was addressing a Congress workers meeting in Raebareli.
“Around 10 lakh 75 thousand voters have showed their confidence in the Congress Party (in this constituency). I thank each and every voter who voted for the Congress. And, I want to tell them that we would continue to work on our ideologies and principles, and would do everything to keep up their faith in us,” the party president said.
The vote share for the INC slumped below 20% for the first time in the history of the country’s Lok Sabha elections, triggering an unprecedented debacle while it crossed 30% for the BJP to record a new high. A 9% decline in the INC’s vote share to 19.3% in the elections concluded last month for the 16th Lok Sabha from its showing in the 2009 polls saw the party lose 162 seats to get only 44.
Adding to its woes, the INC may not get the post of Leader of Opposition (LoP) this time. Former Lok Sabha Secretary-General Subhash Kashyap, the expert every media house is turning to, said the rules mandated that the LoP should be from the largest party that is in opposition to the government but its members should constitute at least 10% of the total strength of the House. This puts the number at 55.
A senior minister in the Narendra Modi government said the Leader of the Opposition post will not be given to any political party. Citing precedence, the BJP leader made the point that Congress had thrice ensured that there was no Leader of the Opposition as other parties did not have requisite 10 per cent members of the total Lok Sabha strength of 543.
“We will go by the ruling given by GV Mavlankar, the first Lok Sabha Speaker, who said that as per the rules a party should have 10 per cent of the total seats in the House to qualify for having its member as the Leader of the Opposition,” another minister said.
The post of the chief of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee will, however, go to Congress, sources said.