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Leader of the Opposition (LoP) UPSC NOTE

 Defining LoP

  • Under a direction of the Speaker issued in the 1950s, in order to get recognition as a party in the House, it should have a minimum of 10% members in that House (Direction 121).

  • This direction was issued for the recognition and categorisation of parliamentary parties for the sake of providing them certain facilities in Parliament. 

  • But this direction does not deal with the recognition of the LoP. 

  • Later, Parliament enacted the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977, which for the first time, defined the term Leader of the Opposition

  • The definition shows that in order to recognise a person as LoP, there are two conditions that need to be fulfilled. 

  • First, the party should be numerically the biggest one in opposition to the government. Second, that party should be recognised by the Speaker as a party.

  • Under 10th schedule, all political parties, irrespective of the number of Members that they have in the Houses, are “parties”. 

  • The term ‘group’ is not recognised by the Schedule. 

  • So, in tune with the Schedule, necessary changes in the Leaders of Opposition Act should have been made to enable the Speaker to recognise the leader of the largest Opposition party in the House, irrespective of whether it has 10% Members or not

The Westminster system

  • In the British parliamentary tradition, LoP is called the Prime Minister-in-waiting as he is the one who the king turns to when the incumbent government falls, to form an alternative government. 

  • He, therefore, forms a shadow cabinet of his colleagues in his party.

  • The shadow cabinet is formed under the leadership of the leader of opposition who will be called the shadow prime minister

  • According to this tradition, the shadow cabinet scrutinises the policies and actions of the government and offers alternative policy. 

  • It is called the shadow cabinet because its members mirror the positions of the individual member of the real cabinet

  • As members of the shadow cabinet, these Opposition members familiarise themselves fully with the operations of the government

  • They can seek all relevant information about the entire gamut of the activities of the government.

  • Although we have adopted the Westminster system, the practice of forming a shadow cabinet does not exist in Parliament or State legislatures. 

  • The post of the Leader of the Opposition in the Indian Parliament has been a statutory position since 1977. 

  • However, this statute does not define the functions of the Leader of the Opposition. 

  • Traditionally, he will be a very senior member of the principal Opposition in the House who commands great respect and has wider acceptability among the parties in the Opposition.

Challenges of LoP

  • The biggest problem he faces is that he has no power

  • It is easy for a party in power to attract other parties and keep the alliance together through a power-sharing arrangement. 

  • The opposition to the policies and programmes of the government is a major factor which keeps them together. 

  • In certain situations, the hope of bringing down the government acts as a unifying factor

  • A large majority enjoyed by the ruling party and its intimidatory postures overawed the Opposition which often felt helpless

  • The LoP of the 18th Lok Sabha has the onerous task of serving the unity of the Opposition at all costs. 

  • As the prime minister in waiting, he has the responsibility to inform the nation about the failures of the government based on truth and with a great sense of responsibility

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Leader of the Opposition (LoP) UPSC NOTE
Leader of the Opposition (LoP) UPSC NOTE
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