The opposition on Monday alleged that the government deliberately disrespected the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha and made him sit “not commensurate with his position” during the swearing-in ceremony of President Draupadi Murmu. Central Hall of Parliament.
However, the government denied the allegation and accused the opposition of misleading the people by making such “baseless” allegations. Opposition leaders said Kharge was sitting on the far left in the front row.
Opposition members in Rajya Sabha wrote to Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu calling Kharge a “deliberate disrespect”. A similar letter was sent to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla by Congress Leader of the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
“Today, at the swearing-in ceremony of the President, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge was made to sit on a seat not commensurate with his position. The letter said that we are writing to express our shock and protest at this deliberate disrespect to a very senior leader, violating the warrant of preference and not as per protocol etiquette.
Members of the Congress, Shiv Sena, NCP, CPM, CPI and Trinamool Congress were among those who signed the letter sent to the Rajya Sabha chairman. The one sent by Choudhary was signed by several Congress Lok Sabha MPs.
Reacting to the charge, Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal accused the Opposition of trying to mislead the people by levelling baseless allegations. “I want to tell the House that two days ago (on Saturday)…there was a function organized by Parliament. In that function, the Leader of Opposition was given a seat next to the Prime Minister in the Central Hall of Parliament. Prime Minister, Leader of the House and Leader of the Opposition…all three were given seats next to each other,” Goyal said in the Rajya Sabha.
“But the Leader of the Opposition did not attend the programme… it was a farewell to constitutional authority. The Chairman and Speaker had sent the invitation, but the seat given to the Leader of Opposition was vacant,” he said.
“In today’s programme, the seating arrangement was made according to the Home Ministry’s order of precedence.. warrant of the protocol. In that (the table of precedence), the Leader of the Opposition is ranked seventh…If we go by that order…the Leader of the Opposition should have been seated on the third row…when we saw the Leader of the Opposition on the first row, we felt happy…that instead of the third row in the order of precedence…he has been given a seat in the first row…But when he objected…that he was seated in a corner…the staff requested him to shift to a middle seat. It happened before my eyes…he was requested to move to a middle seat but he refused,” he said.
According to the preference table, cabinet ministers, chief ministers of their respective states, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, former prime ministers and leaders of opposition in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha are ranked seventh. Chief ministers from outside their states are ranked eighth in the order.
Opposition leaders said some chief ministers, including Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, were sitting in the front row.
Attacking the opposition for raising such an issue, Goel said reflects the mindset… “They don’t have an issue… and they don’t want the House to function”.
Government sources said Congress President Sonia Gandhi was given a prominent seat and Kharge was also given a front-row seat. He said Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was sitting in the front row on Saturday when Parliament organized a farewell ceremony for Ram Nath Kovind.
Union Minister Prahlad Joshi said that there was no breach of protocol during the swearing-in ceremony of the President. “In order of preference, the leader of the opposition is equivalent to a cabinet minister. Moving vigorously, his seat comes in the third row. But to respect Kharge ji’s seniority, he was given a seat in the first row itself.