New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan feels the House can change the rules regarding recognising the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the absence of any party getting the minimum ten per cent of the total strength for the purpose.
"The Speaker does not have any personal discretion. A Speaker is supposed to follow rules. I have to go by rules. There are `Directions of the Speaker` which mandate ten per cent strength for a party in Lok Sabha to be recognised as Leader of the Opposition.
"If anybody wants a change in them, then a committee can be formed to look into them. But I need to follow the rules. I cannot do any thing on this," Mahajan told PTI.
She said that her decision on granting the status of LoP to any party was on the basis of the directions, which guide the functioning of the Lok Sabha chief, and precedents followed by others.
"The directions of the Speaker are very clear to decide on the LoP. I also took legal opinion before deciding on the matter," the Lok Sabha Speaker said.
Congress with 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha has emerged as the second largest party after BJP`s 282 but fell short by 11 to be granted the LoP for which it requires a strength of 55.
However, Congress has been claiming that the pre-poll alliance of UPA had secured 56 seats and, therefore, it had the right to be the Leader of the Opposition.
"There was no LoP in 1980 and also in 1984," she said.
Asked about the importance of the inclusion of LoP in the selection committees of statutory bodies like Lokpal, CVC and CIC, she said that was the look out of the government.
The appointments of Central Information Commissioner (CIC) and Central Vigilance Commissioner are done by the President on the basis of recommendation of a three-member committee consisting Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.
The chairperson and members of Lokpal are selected by a committee headed by Prime Minister and four members-- Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in the Lower House, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.