Opposition leaders on Monday wrote to the Rajya Sabha chairman alleging that the Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Mallikarjun Kharge was not given a seat “commensurate with the position he holds” during the oath-taking ceremony of President Droupadi Murmu.
Murmu took oath as the country’s 15th president at the central hall of Parliament on Monday morning.
Congress General Secretary in charge of Communications, Jairam Ramesh, tweeted a letter sent to M Venkaiah Naidu on the matter. Fifteen Opposition leaders had signed the letter.
“We are writing to express our shock and protest at this deliberate disrespect shown to a very senior leader violating the warrant of precedence and not in accordance with protocol courtesies due to him,” the Opposition leaders wrote.
Apart from Ramesh, the Congress’ Mukul Wasnik, the Nationalist Congress Party’s Vandana Chavan and the Communist Party of India’s Binoy Viswam were among the MPs who signed the letter.
Responding to the allegation, Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi said that according to the protocol, the Leader of Opposition should be seated in the third row, ANI reported.
“To respect the position of Mallikarjun Kharge, he was provided with a seat in the first row,” Joshi claimed. “When he still complained that it was on the corner, the staff offered to move him to the centre, but he refused.”
The minister added that Kharge had also been invited for the farewell function for former president Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday, and had been allotted a seat close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“But he did not show up,” Joshi said. “In a way, it was an insult to the outgoing president, the chairman [of the Rajya Sabha] and the Speaker [of the Lok Sabha].”