The budget session of the Gujarat Assembly began on Thursday even as the BJP-ruled government denied the post of Leader of Opposition to the Congress for want of numbers. It will be for the first time since Gujarat became a separate state in 1960 that the state assembly will not have an opposition leader.
This is the first budget session after the BJP returned to power, securing a record breaking victory in the December 2022 assembly elections. While the BJP won 156 out of the 182 seats, the Congress registered its worst ever performance by bagging only 17 seats.
The Congress had named Amit Chavda, MLA from Anklav as the party leader in the assembly. Soon after his appointment, Chavda had written to Assembly Speaker Shankar Chaudhary on the LoP issue and later sent two reminders, too. On Wednesday evening, on the eve of the budget session, Chavda received a letter from D.M. Patel, secretary to the Gujarat Assembly. Chavda later came on record to state that the letter had mentioned that the Congress cannot be given the opposition leader's post as the party does not have 10 per cent MLAs of the total number of seats.
Based on this provision, the Congress should have at least 18 MLAs to get the LoP post.
The party is now exploring legal options to deal with the issue. It also hit out at the BJP with Porbandar MLA and former Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia claiming that the 10 per cent rule is applicable only in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and that it has nothing to do with the state assemblies.
Modwadia said normally the leader of the second largest party is given the leader of opposition’s post. In 1985, the Congress had given the post to Janata Dal though the party did not have required numbers.
Meanwhile, Congress MLAs stood outside the Assembly Building, carrying placards of the alleged failures of the state government.