Advani elected leader of opposition (Lead)

May 31st, 2009 - 10:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani was Sunday formally elected as leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha.
A meeting of the BJP MPs here also discussed probable names for the deputy leader’s post, besides the party’s strategy for the first session of the house beginning Monday though details were not disclosed.

Party stalwarts Jaswant Singh (Lok Sabha) and M. Venkaiah Naidu (Rajya Sabha) proposed Advani’s name and he was unanimously elected.

BJP leader Susha Swaraj told reporters that party president Rajnath Singh has authorised Advani to decide on all other parliamentary posts, including leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, BJP deputy leader in Lok Sabha and party chief whips in both houses.

Elected from the Gandhinagar constituency in Gujarat for the fourth time in a row, Advani, 81, was leader of opposition in the previous Lok Sabha too. He has been an MP six times.

In the run-up to the general elections, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had projected him as its prime ministerial candidates.

On the very day of the party’s rout in the elections - down to 116 seats from 138 in 2004, Advani had offered to quit his post May 16 but the party prevailed upon him and elected him once again Sunday.

BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi earlier told IANS that the meeting could also discuss the probables for the post of deputy leader.

Reliable party sources said that Sushma Swaraj, who won the elections from Madhya Pradesh, is the front-runner for the post.

“It is more or less final, but a formal announcement would come later,” a party leader told IANS, requesting anonymity for he is not authorised to speak to the media on such issues.

On this, Naqvi only said: “You will get to know, what’s the hurry?”

Asked about the party’s candidate for the post of deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha which by tradition is allotted to the opposition, Naqvi said: “It will be decided in consultation with the NDA partners.”

He said there were other leaders also in the BJP, when asked about rumours of party leader Sumitra Mahajan being considered for the post.

In the 14th Lok Sabha, the post was with Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP’s partner in the NDA. This time round the BJP is likely to keep the post for itself though its key ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U) is pitching for its Bihar unit chief Rajiv Ranjan Singh.

The first session of the 15th Lok Sabha begins Monday with the swearing in of new members. The speaker will be elected June 3, and President Pratibha Patil will address a joint session of both houses June 4.

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