Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on Saturday said the party will not stake claim to the post of Leader of Opposition in Parliament as it does not have the numbers.
According to established norm, a party needs 10% of the strength of the House (543) to be eligible for the post. The Congress was able to secure only 52 of the 542 seats in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections – eight seats more than it won in 2014. There was no official leader of opposition in the previous Lok Sabha as well.
“We will not stake claim to the Leader of Opposition post till we have the strength of 54 and since we don’t have the required numbers, we are not going to stake claim,” Surjewala said on Saturday, according to the Hindustan Times. “However, the onus and responsibility also lies at the doorsteps of the government whether they want to designate a party formally as principal Opposition or not.”
Senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was on Saturday elected the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party at a meeting of the party’s newly-elected Lok Sabha MPs. She said that several “decisive measures” were being considered in order to strengthen the party.
At the same meeting, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the party’s 52 Lok Sabha MPs are strong enough to “make BJP jump every day”. This was the first official meeting that Rahul Gandhi attended after the meeting of the party’s working committee on May 25, when he offered to quit as party chief. The Congress Working Committee had rejected his offer to resign and unanimously passed a resolution authorising him to bring structural changes in the party at all levels.
Rahul Gandhi has, however, reportedly been adamant on resigning from his post following the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. Several leaders, including allies of the Congress, had requested him not to step down. A section of Congress workers and leaders also sat on a hunger strike outside his residence to convince him to withdraw his resignation.