New Delhi: Congress' move to keep away from the oath-taking ceremony of new ministers here yesterday was apparently to send a signal to the Narendra Modi government that the Opposition party was not happy over its attitude.
A senior leader, who declined to be identified, today said that despite the Congress being a constructive Opposition, the government has been less than reciprocative.
He said the absence of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh should be seen in the context of behaviour of the government.
Congress has been denied the Leader of the Opposition status in the Lok Sabha on the contention that its numbers 44 were less than one tenth strength of the House.
The remarks of the Congress leader are significant in view of the fact that the Winter Session of Parliament is less than a fortnight away and government has spoken of a heavy legislative agenda including some key reform measures.
The BJP-led NDA does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha and will have to depend upon the cooperation of the Opposition to get key bills passed.
Leaders of various political parties belonging to the 'Janata Parivar' met here last week ostensibly to discuss a joint floor management strategy for the Winter Session and also for exploring a joint front against a resurgent BJP.
The parties including--JD-U, RJD, JD-S, INLD and Samajwadi Party- have said that they would pool their resources in Parliament to be more effective. Together, these parties account for barely 15 seats in the Lok Sabha, but have 25 seats in the Rajya Sabha, which, looking at the way numbers are balanced in the Upper House is far more significant.
Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav was the lone Opposition leader present at Modi's Cabinet expansion exercise.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal had said yesterday that both Gandhi and Singh were invited to the ceremony.
It was not clear whether any other Congress leader, apart from Gandhi and Singh, were invited for the ceremony. Gandhi is chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party.
At the AICC briefing, when asked as to why Congress leaders were absent at the swearing-in ceremony, party General Secretary Ajay Maken countered "the question should be asked to Shiv Sena and Akali Dal" are part of NDA.
The remarks were to drive home the point that top leaders of the Shiv Sena, with which the BJP has problems over ministerial berths in Maharashtra, as also the SAD were not present at the function.