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Role of Opposition Party in Parliament

Posted by Admin on April 26, 2014 | 4 Comments to Read

It’s believed that Indian polity has been able to sustain its democratic nature because of the constant scrutinizing by  opposition parties. A party might not be able to form the government at the center because of the lack of majority, but that doesn’t take away the responsibility of acting as a watchdog of the ruling party. When it comes to questioning the government and preventing them from taking negative strides, parliament is the most suitable platform for the opposition to leverage.

Role of Opposition Party in Parliament

Expectations from Opposition Party in Parliament

In a parliamentary style of government, the opposition party is judged by the way it conducts itself the House.  That’s true for India as well. Holding the ruling party accountable to the public should be the prime focus of the opposition. However, there are several other layered responsibilities that they are expected to perform.

Instead of being completely critical of the party in power, the opposition needs to put a check on the excesses. Since the people of the country count on them to uphold people’s best interests, they ought to be sure that government’s decisions don’t have negative implications on the country’s overall health.

Besides debating legislation in the House and ensuring that it’s a well thought out decision, the opposition should also protest any Bill that may go against the interest of the country. The opposition MPs need to see themselves as representatives of common people who expect justice and freedom from unlawful practices.

The opposition members of the parliament need to be proactive enough to raise questions and recommend methodologies to the government.  Apart from examining the performance of the executive, it also has to demonstrate its achievements or policies that can contribute towards the efficient running of the country.

Role of Opposition Parties in Parliamentary Committees

One of the most important parliamentary committees has an opposition leader as the Chairman. Public Accounts Committee, which investigates the use of finances granted to the government, is led by a member belonging to an opposition party.

Presently, there are 24 Standing Committees of the Parliament segmented as per the departments and ministries.  Some of the crucial committees such as finance, external affairs, and home affairs are led by the members of opposition parties. It is under their aegis that the standing committees examine legislations, expenditure plans of ministries and government schemes. Every MP of the House has to go through the recommendations of these committees.

As a chairman of some of these parliamentary panels, an opposition leader contributes towards strengthening legislation in an informed and participatory manner.  The Opposition party members also have a significant role to play in the ad hoc committees constituted to scrutinize a specific case. The Joint Parliamentary Committee is an apt example in this regard. The committee, which was constituted to probe 2G scam, had 15 members from the opposition party out of a total strength of 30.

Role of the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament

Both Houses of the Parliament have a Leader of the Opposition, who is chosen from the largest opposition party. The position is recognized by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.  The Leader of the Opposition is accorded certain privileges including a separate room in the Parliament with Secretariat and other facilities.

The incumbent has to offer constructive criticism of government policies. He/she has to ensure that House proceeds expeditiously and holds adequate debate on pressing issues. The Leader of the Opposition is expected to apprise the government of the party’s stand on certain legislations even before the Bill is tabled in the parliament. This gives government the scope for considering the suggestions and work towards suggested amendments.