Image Source : PTI Rahul Gandhi is a Member of Parliament from Rae Bareli.

After a decade, the Lok Sabha will once again have a Leader of the Opposition (LoP) as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi steps into the role. This development marks a significant moment in Indian parliamentary history, as the Congress party, despite being the second-largest in the Lok Sabha during the 2014 and 2019 elections, had been unable to claim the LoP position. The reason for this was that the party had less than 10 per cent of the total seats in the Lower House, falling short of the required threshold.

In the 543-member Lok Sabha, an Opposition party must secure at least 55 seats to be eligible for the LoP post. With this recent change, the Congress has finally met the necessary criteria, paving the way for Rahul Gandhi to assume this key position. 

In the 2014 general election, the Congress party experienced a significant setback, losing both its ruling status and the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) position, as it managed to secure only 44 seats. The party’s request for the LoP post was subsequently denied by the then Lok Sabha Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan. In the 2019 general election, the Congress slightly improved its performance by winning 52 seats, but still fell short of the required numbers to reclaim the LoP position. However, in the 2024 election, the Congress achieved a notable comeback by winning 99 seats. This improved performance has allowed the Congress to claim the role of the principal Opposition in the country, with Rahul Gandhi assuming the position of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Powers as Leader of Opposition 

The role of Leader of the Opposition, though not enshrined in the Constitution, will nevertheless bestow upon Rahul Gandhi certain significant powers. These powers include having a say in the appointment of bureaucrats to important positions. The Rai Bareli MP has been recognised as the LoP under Section 2 of the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977. As the Leader of Opposition, Gandhi will now be accorded the status of a Cabinet minister. This will also enhance his position in the protocol list.

He will also be a member of important panels on key appointments such as the Lokpal, chief election commissioner and election commissioners, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director, besides the selection of Central Vigilance Commission, Central Information Commission and the National Human Rights Commission chiefs. The Prime Minister heads all these panels. The Leader of the Opposition plays a vital role in parliamentary proceedings, serving as a key figure in providing essential checks and balances on the ruling government.

In addition to receiving a salary and other benefits as outlined in Section 3 of the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954, Rahul Gandhi, as a Member of Parliament, will be entitled to secretarial assistance equivalent to that provided to the personal staff of a Cabinet minister. This includes the services of a private secretary, two additional private secretaries, two assistant private secretaries, two personal assistants, a Hindi stenographer, a clerk, a sanitation worker, and four peons. Moreover, he will receive a constituency allowance at the rate currently specified under Section 8 of the 1954 Act, along with a sumptuary allowance.

Speaker recognises Rahul Gandhi as LoP in Lok Sabha

It should be mentioned here that Rahul Gandhi has been an MP for five terms and currently represents the Rae Bareli constituency previously held by his mother Sonia Gandhi. He took oath as an MP on Tuesday while holding a copy of the Constitution. On Wednesday, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla officially recognised Rahul Gandhi as the Leader of the Opposition. A notification issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat confirmed that Gandhi has been acknowledged as the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha effective from June 9. 

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