The Janata Dal-United on Friday announced its support to Congress for the post of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha even as the treasury side has kept suspense over the issue.
"In a similar situation in Bihar, the then Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of our party had given the status of Leader of Opposition to Adbul Bari Siddiqui of Rashtriya Janata Dal though his party did not have the numbers to claim it," party general secretary K C Tyagi said.
The JD-U, which has only two members in the Lok Sabha, is of the view that the main opposition party needed to be given the Leader of Opposition status to be on the panel to consider key appointments like Central Vigilance Commissioner, head of the National Human Rights Commission and the Lokpal.
"At the Centre, the requirement is all the more. There are legal and constitutional requirements, which have to be fulfilled. That is why we are demanding that a leader of Congress should be given the Leader of Opposition status in Lok Sabha," Tyagi said.
Amid speculation that a grouping of regional parties like AIADMK, BJD and Trinamool Congress could come forward to claim the post in Lok Sabha, a JD-U functionary speaking on condition of anonymity said that since the Lok Sabha will primarily be dealing with national issues, it makes more sense that the post should go to a national party.
Normally, the leader of the largest party after the ruling party or coalition is recognised as the Leader of Opposition. However for that, the second largest party should have secured at least 10 per cent of seats in the Lok Sabha, meaning 55 seats.
In the newly-elected Lok Sabha, no party has got 55 seats and the closest to the mark is Congress with 44 seats.
A Leader of Opposition in either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha enjoys the status of a Cabinet rank minister with equivalent salary and perks.
Raising the pitch over the issue, Congress had on Thursday said that it will be "undemocratic" if the ruling party ignores its say in the appointment of Lokpal and other such key decisions.
AICC Communication Department Chairman Ajay Maken had said "having no opposition member on selection committee for Lokpal defeats the very purpose institution and spirit of Lokpal and it is against democratic norms."
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, had, however, steered clear of questions on the issue of Leader of Opposition status to the Congress saying the matter is with the Speaker.
"The matter is with the Speaker. I do not want to say anything about it", he said.
He had earlier taunted the Congress saying that people have not chosen any party for the position of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
Congress supported the JD-U government twice in Bihar and there have been indications of the two parties coming together for some time despite the fact that Congress is in alliance with JD-U's arch rival RJD in Bihar.
Recently, there was also indication that JD-U could support a Congress leader for Rajya Sabha seat from Bihar but no such request was made from Congress.