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General Studies 2 >> Polity

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1. Context
Rae Bareli MP Rahul Gandhi is Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, a position that lay vacant for 10 years because no party had numbers equalling a tenth of the strength of the House, which has been by practice a requirement to lay claim to the post.
2. Who is Leader of Opposition?
  • The Leader of the Opposition is the head of the largest party not in government in a parliamentary system. This person provides an alternative government and critiques government policies.
  • They play a crucial role in maintaining checks and balances by leading the opposition's efforts to hold the government accountable.
  • The position is recognized officially and often comes with certain privileges and responsibilities, such as attending important state functions and being involved in key parliamentary committees
  • The Leader of the Opposition role was defined by the 1977 Act on Salary and Allowances. This person leads the largest opposition party in either the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, recognized by the respective House's chair.
  • They sit in the front row left of the Chair and partake in ceremonial duties, such as escorting the Speaker-elect.
  • They represent the opposition in key government appointment committees and hold a rank equivalent to Union Cabinet Ministers and other high-ranking officials. Their main function is to voice the opposition's stance in the House
3. What are the roles and responsibilities of the leader of the opposition?
  • The Leader of the Opposition occupies a front-row seat to the left of the Chair and holds certain ceremonial privileges, such as escorting the Speaker-elect and sitting in the front row during the President's address to Parliament.
  • Their primary role is to articulate the opposition's views in the House. A 2012 parliamentary booklet describes the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha as akin to a "shadow Prime Minister," with a "shadow Cabinet" prepared to govern if necessary.
  • This role is vital for the smooth functioning of parliamentary business, balancing governance and opposition
  • The Leader of the Opposition serves as the opposition's representative on key committees led by the Prime Minister, involved in appointments for positions like the Director of CBI, Central Vigilance Commissioner, Chief Information Commissioner, and members of the National Human Rights Commission and Lokpal.
  • From 2014 to 2019, as the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Kharge accused the government of attempting to exclude the opposition from the Lokpal selection process by arguing the absence of a designated Leader of the Opposition.
  • In order of precedence, the Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha come at No. 7, along with Union Cabinet Ministers, the National Security Advisor, the Principal Secretary to the PM, the Vice-Chairperson of the NITI Aayog, former PMs, and Chief Ministers
4.What is the significance of strong opposition to strengthening parliamentary democracy?
A strong opposition is crucial for strengthening parliamentary democracy as it ensures accountability, transparency, and effective governance. It challenges the government's policies, providing alternative viewpoints and solutions, which fosters robust debate and prevents the concentration of power. An active opposition scrutinizes legislative proposals, ensuring thorough review and improvement of laws. It also represents diverse interests and voices, contributing to more inclusive and representative decision-making. Ultimately, a strong opposition maintains the balance of power, enhancing the overall health and functioning of democracy
For Prelims: Indian polity
For Mains: GS-II: Constitution and Polity
Source: Indianexpress

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