During the Parliament Session on Wednesday, Gandhi debuted as the Leader of the Opposition — the post equivalent to the rank of a cabinet minister. It was after 10 years that the Lok Sabha got its Leader of the Opposition after the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections.

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What will the role of Rahul Gandhi be as Leader of the Opposition?

1. Oppose/question govt policies

If the Leader of the Opposition lets the Prime Minister govern, he is, in turn, permitted to oppose but not obstruct the workings of Parliament by sloganeering or in any other way.

One of the major roles of the Leader of the Opposition is to ‘effectively’ question the government’s policies. The role of Leader of the Opposition is, in fact, very challenging as he has to ensure accountability of the government to the legislature and to the public and present alternatives to government proposals/policies.

“His/her proactive role in facilitating smooth functioning of the business of the House is as important as that of the Government,” says a booklet on “The Indian Parliament”.

2. Leader of Opposition is shadow of PM

The Leader of the Opposition “is a shadow Prime Minister” with a ‘shadow Cabinet’ — prepared to take up the responsibility of forming a government if his party secures a majority at an election or if the present government resigns or is defeated.

A government document says that the Leader of the Opposition, therefore, has to carefully measure his words and actions and act with as much responsibility as is expected of the Prime Minister on a matter of national interest.

3. Demand debates

If the Leader of the Opposition feels that the “government is trying to slide over an important issue and shun parliamentary criticism,” he can rightfully demand a debate on the issue.

4. PM may consult Leader of Opposition on policies

On matters such as foreign relations and defence policy, the Prime Minister may, at times, consult the Leader of the Opposition before making a commitment.

“And in times of grave national crisis, the Leader of the Opposition usually underlines the unity of the nation on a particular issue by openly identifying himself with the Government policy,” the government document reads.

5. Leader of the Opposition must abstain from party politics when abroad

As per the document, the Leader of the Opposition may criticise the government vehemently on the floor of the House and outside in his country. But when abroad, he should eschew party politics.

6. Official spokesperson of minority

The Leader of the Opposition is said to be the official spokesman of the minority or minorities. He must demand justice and take action in case of any encroachment on their rights.

7. Role in key appointments

As the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi may become a part of committees responsible for the appointment process for officials such as the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Chief Election Commissioners, the National Human Rights Commission chairperson and the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, NDTV reported.

The Leader of the Opposition is also a member of key committees such as Public Accounts, Public Undertakings, Estimates, and several Joint Parliamentary Committees.

Leader of Opposition salary and facilities provided

The Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have been accorded a statutory recognition and given salary and certain other facilities and amenities under the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.

As per the 1977 Act, each Leader of the Opposition is entitled to receive a “salary per mensem and allowances for each day at the same rates as are specified in section 3 of the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 with respect to Members of Parliament”.

Now, the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 was amended vide the Finance Act, 2018. The revisions come into force with effect from April 2018 and was scheduled to be revised after every five years commencing from 1st April, 2023 on the basis of the Cost Inflation Index.

Here is what the Members in our Parliament get:-

Salary: Rs.1 Lakh per month

Daily allowance: Rs.2000 per day for each day of residence in Delhi on duty

Constituency allowance: Rs.70000 per month

Furniture allowance: Rs. 1 Lakh (Out of which Rs. 80000 for durables and Rs. 20000 for nondurables)

Office expense allowance: Rs. 60000 per month (Out of which, 20,000 is for meeting expenses on stationery and postage

Some of the facilities provided to the Leader of the Opposition include:

(i) Seat in the Lok Sabha in the front row left to the Chair next to the seat of Deputy Speaker

(ii) A room in Parliament House with Secretarial and other facilities.

(iii) The Leader of the Opposition also enjoys certain privileges on ceremonial occasions, like (i) escorting the Speaker-elect to the rostrum; and (ii) seat in the front row at the time of Address by the President to both the Houses of Parliament.

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Published: 26 Jun 2024, 05:55 PM IST