The Congress demand for being accorded the status of Leader of Opposition to its group chief in Lok Sabha was on Tuesday rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. “I have gone by rules and tradition,” she said on her decision not to recognise the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha as the Leader of the Opposition. The Speaker’s decision rejecting the Congress demand has been conveyed in a letter to the Congress party. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had written to Mahajan seeking the status of the Leader of Opposition to Mallikarjun Kharge who is the party’s group leader in the House. The Speaker had also taken the opinion of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who had said that Congress does not have the numbers so that its floor leader can be granted the status of Leader of Opposition. The Congress is the second largest group in the Lok Sabha with 44 seats after the BJP’s 282 and has been insisting that it should be given the status of Leader of Opposition. However, citing rules, the Speaker has conveyed to the Congress that she was not in a position to give the party Leader of Opposition status because it fell short of the minimum 55 seats required for staking claim to the post. Ms. Mahajan is also believed to have cited the precedents in 1980 and 1984 when there was no recognised Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha.