THE MAVLANKAR RULE: THE SELECTION OF THE LEADER OF OPPOSITION


Introduction
The Congress has won 52 Lok Sabha seats in 17th Lok Sabha election held recently. The party has improved its numbers in the Lok Sabha from 44 in 2014 and remains the main Opposition party in the house. However, like the 16th Lok Sabha, the Congress has not qualified to have a Leader of Opposition in the 17th Lok Sabha. Under the existing rules, an Opposition party can claim to have a Leader of Opposition in any of the houses provided the party has won 10 per cent of the seats. The leader of the opposition is one of the key parliamentary functionaries whose role, though not defined in any rule, is of very great importance in the functioning of a legislature. He or she is invariably a senior leader representing the main opposition party in the legislature. R.P Pandey in his article “The Opposition Politics in Legislatures” has said that “It has been long said that the function of the Opposition in democracy is to oppose government measures according to its own conscience and party program, to propose measures which it considers necessary for the people and to oust the government defeating it at voting time in the legislature. But sometimes the Opposition in India is so overzealous of its functions that it overacts and becomes theatrical. To cover such performances of the Opposition, Herman Finer has quoted sarcasm attributed to Tierney that 'the function of the Opposition is to pose nothing, to oppose everything and to turn out the Government.”  This article would focus upon the need for appointment of leader of opposition in democracy and also try to understand method involved in his appointment.  

Roles Of Leader Of Opposition
According to Dean E. McHenry“The role of the opposition in parliamentary government is widely known and has been capably described.The opposition performs two key functions: it provides an alternative government and it provides criticism of the government of the day. In the give and take of the parliamentary arena the typical situation involves government proposal and defense of a policy line; the opposition then directs its attack along lines that its appraisal of the situation indicates will be most fruitful. Although the skirmish often leads to a test of strength in a vote of confidence, the opposition rarely has hopes of defeating the government; its goal, more likely, is to influence public opinion to the extent that at the next election the government will be retired. “The opposition submits the work of the government to constant criticism, and constantly provides an alternative administration. Its great constitutional importance is officially recognized under federal law, and that of several states, by the grant of an additional parliamentary salary to the Leader of the Opposition." 

Leader Of Opposition In Other Countries
Many countries like Canada, Union of South Africa, Australia, and many of their provinces and states already had earlier recognised the position of leader of opposition and had established salaried positions or sessional allowances for opposition leaders.The most common mode of selecting leaders for political parties of British countries is election by party caucus of members of Parliament; this device is used by the United Kingdom Labor party, and by major parties in Australia and New Zealand. The British Conservative party vests final selection in a body composed of its M.P.'s, Lords, candidates, and officials of the party organization. In Canada the parties sometimes elect leaders by large national conventions and at other times leave the selection to a caucus of parliamentarians.
Australian Prime Minister, Mr. W. M. Hughes, after stressing the heavy work load and important role of the opposition leaders, concluded: "Parliamentary government has long recognized the necessity for an Opposition, and it is about time we gave statutory authority for the office. It should have been done long ago. We will do it now.” In the Union of South Africa, the only one of these nations that makes provision in its Constitution for the leadership of the opposition,  the office and salary appear to have occasioned no controversy.The leader is, under 1946 legislation, that member of the House of Assembly "who is for the time being the Leader in that House of the Party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength. 

Selection Of Leader Of Opposition In India
India did not have a Leader of Opposition till 1969. In the first three LokSabha elections, the Congress-led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had an overarching influence. Nehru’s Congress won 1951-52, 1957 and 1962, Lok Sabha elections with an overwhelming majority and the main Opposition parties consistently failed to win 10 per cent of the seats. The 10 per cent rule was spelt out by GV Mavalankar, the first Lok Sabha speaker. GV Mavalankar, had ruled in the LokSabha that the strength of the main Opposition party, to be officially recognized as such, must be equal to the quorum of the house. Quorum is equivalent to “10 per cent of the members”. This point was later incorporated in Direction 121 (1) of the Directions by the Speaker, LokSabha, and “The Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognized Parties and Groups in Parliament (facilities) Act of 1998”.  Direction 121(1)(c) reads: "In recognizing a Parliamentary Party...(it) shall have at least a strength equal to the quorum fixed to constitute a sitting of the House, that is one-tenth of the total number of members of the House." An important point to note is that there is no mention of LoP in these directions. Rather, these directions are to recognize “Parliamentary Party or Group." 

Whereas according to  Section 2 of “The Salary And Allowances Of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977”,“Leader of the Opposition”, in relation to either House of Parliament, means that member of the Council of States or the House of the People, as the case may be, who is, for the time being, the Leader in that House of the party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength and recognized as such by the Chairman of the Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People, as the case may be.

The Act of 1977 which has for the first time given legal recognition to leader of opposition have given exact definition, but nowhere mention about the 10% rule laid down by Mavlankar, but the subsequent legislation which has given this rule substantive legislative basing has added most intricacies to this issue, while giving criteria of 10% but nowhere mentioning about leader of opposition and instead using the word “parliamentary party”. It needs to be noted that after the anti-defection law in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution came into force, the system of recognizing political parties in the legislature ended. Now, even a lone member elected on a party ticket is enough to form a legislature party. Therefore not appointing the leader of opposition out of ambiguity over the prescribed qualification and lack of legislation prescribing any rules regarding roles and responsibility for the leader of the opposition will lead to creating distrust among the people of the country on the democratic and constitutional framework. 

Conclusion
Being the biggest democracy in the world, entrust with an additional duty to set some benchmark for an ideal democracy. With the above discussion it is now clear that appointment of leader of opposition forms an indispensable part of democracy, hence it must be ensured that with every elected government, there must be appointed leader of opposition. Proper guidelines with regard to his appointment must be laid down in a constitutional manner and this must be ensured that the leader of opposition performs his function effectively and diligently.   

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