FairPoint: Will Rahul Gandhi take the plunge and be LoP

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | June 09, 2024 IST

FairPoint: Will Rahul Gandhi take the plunge and be LoP

New Delhi, June 9: As the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution requesting Rahul Gandhi to become the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Lok Sabha, it remains to be seen whether he will accept the role.

He will decide soon, as per the party General Secretary K. C. Venugopal, who also said that he (Rahul Gandhi) is “fearless and courageous.” For donning the hat of LoP, being responsible is a far greater criterion than anything else.

The LoP is essentially a Member of Parliament who is the leader in that House of the party in Opposition, having the greatest numerical strength and the requisite 10 per cent of total seats in the House.

As per the mandate of the post, the MP holding the position will be a member of crucial committees, including Public Accounts, Public Undertakings, Estimates, and Joint Parliamentary Committees. The post entitles being a member of various selection committees responsible for appointing heads of statutory bodies like the Central Vigilance Commission, the Central Information Commission, CBI, NHRC, Election Commission, the Lokpal and others.

In the 16th and 17th Lok Sabhas, Congress, despite being the biggest party in the Opposition, failed to get the LoP status as its tally was below the requisite 10 per cent criterion, both in 2014 and 2019.

In the outgoing Lok Sabha, Congress, with 52 seats had the maximum number among the Opposition but failed to get the LoP status. At that time also, there was a clamour for Rahul Gandhi to become the party’s leader in Lok Sabha. But he refused and named Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as the leader of the Congress Party in the Lower House.

Now, with an improved mandate in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the Congress will rightfully claim the position of LoP. The number of 99 is more than enough to get the status and is also something for Rahul Gandhi to show for his sustained fight against the Modi-led BJP government. More than the 99 successes, Congress is elated over the fact that together with other INDIA bloc partners, it has been able to stop BJP from achieving the magic figure of 272.

This sense of achievement has given the Grand Old Party a new vigour and Rahul Gandhi is being urged by its leaders to take the government head on. The first step towards this is accepting the post of LoP, the party feels.

Whether Rahul Gandhi accepts the post is something to be watched over. In the past, he has been involved in situations that have led to controversies and he being labelled irresponsible.

Who can forget the scene when he tore the printout of an ordinance in 2013 and opposed his own government (Manmohan Singh was the PM then) during a press conference in the national capital?

In March 2023, a Gujarat court had sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years imprisonment after he was found guilty in the “Modi surname'' criminal defamation case during a speech at a 2019 campaign rally. The Supreme Court later reinstated him to his seat.

In 2018, after his speech during a no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and later winked at his fellow party members.

On July 8, 2017, Rahul Gandhi, who was then Congress Vice President, met Chinese envoy to India, Luo Zhaohui, amid escalated border tensions. The party initially denied the meeting but later admitted after the Chinese embassy put out a press release. And Gandhi took to (then) Twitter saying: "It is my job to be informed on critical issues. I met the Chinese ambassador, ex-NSA, Congress leaders from NE & the Bhutanese ambassador."

If Rahul Gandhi agrees to be the LoP, for every customary meeting with a foreign dignitary, he will have to take a briefing from the Ministry of External Affairs. Will he follow the drill?

Also, being the LoP, he will have direct communication with the government and the PM. He will have to take rebuttals and make instant replies based on facts. The post requires maturity, a certain calmness, and accuracy in statements.

Being LoP for Rahul Gandhi will bring other challenges for him like maintaining high attendance which he has not been able to do in previous sessions. He will have to be present in the House all days of the session.

His attendance in the House has been below average. Even his participation in debates and raising questions have been way below average.

The Congress wants Rahul Gandhi to take responsibility this time.

But, for the Gandhi scion, who after a stint at the party’s top post, has largely stayed away from direct responsibilities, the “shall I or shall I not” decision will not be that easy.

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