NEW DELHI, July 25 (PTI): Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal on Monday accused the Opposition Congress of misleading the public with a “baseless” allegation on the seating arrangement for the Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Mallikarjuna Kharge at the President’s oath ceremony.
Several Opposition leaders on Monday wrote to the Rajya Sabha chairman claiming that Kharge was not accorded a seat commensurate with his position during the swearing-in ceremony of President Draupadi Murmu.
Raising this issue when the House reassembled at 3 pm, Goyal contested the Opposition’s charge, saying the Leader of Opposition is seated in the third row in the order of precedence of rank, but Kharge was made to sit in the front row.
He said a “baseless” tweet has been posted by a Congress member and it was “misleading the public”.
On July 23, the Leader of Opposition sat next to the prime minister along with the Leader of House during a farewell ceremony of a Constitutional authority organised by the Rajya Sabha. All of them were seated on the same bench in the Central Hall of Parliament.
“That was the (Upper) House’s function. But the Leader of Opposition (LOP) did not turn up for the programme organised to bid farewell to a Constitutional authority. Chairman and Speaker were invited, but LOP did not attend and that chair was empty,” he said.
However, at President-elect Draupadi Murmu’s oath ceremony held in the morning, Goyal said the Leader of Opposition was made to sit in the front row instead of the third row as per the table of rank and precedence followed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“When we saw LOP in the front row, we were very happy. As per the order of precedence, he was kept in the front row instead of the third row. When it was observed that I was in the corner, a staff member requested him to shift to the middle. But he rejected,” he said.
This shows the “mindset of the Opposition,” he added.
Goyal said the Ministry of Home Affairs had made the seating arrangement at the President’s oath ceremony in accordance with the table of rank and precedence. Accordingly, LOP comes in the seventh order after cabinet ministers of the union, principal secretaries to the PM, national security advisor, and chief ministers of the states.
Going by this order, LOP is to be seated in the third row, but he was made to sit in the front row, he said.