Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi
Congress party chief Sonia and her son and vice-president of Congress Rahul appeared before the Patiala House Court for the National Herald case hearing on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015.Reuters

It is indeed a crushing defeat that the Indian National Congress has suffered at the hands of the right-leaning Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in this Lok Sabha elections. Since the announcement of results, several key leaders across the country have thrown in their resignations. While taking the higher moral ground is right for Congress and other political parties in the country, it is also time to work towards creating a strong Opposition in the Indian parliament.

Earlier on Monday, after the Congress working committee was holding a closed-door meeting, rumours were rife that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi may offer their resignations. However, several Congress leaders denied that any such step would be taken.

Congress has only 44 seats in total, beating its previous low of 114 seats in 1999. It failed to open its account in seven states and did not cross the double-digit mark in any state. With less than 10 percent of the total seats in the lower house, Congress runs the risk of its leader not being recognised as leader of the Opposition.

As per the Indian Constitution, the main Opposition party can be recognised only if it holds at least one-tenth of the strength of the house. In the current context, the Congress needs to have at least 54 seats in a house of 543 to be accorded the status of the Opposition.

Congress should now try to work with other political parties to form a constructive Opposition. Congress is already going to be a weak Opposition due to its number. The problem will be compounded when key governance issues will require a debate, discussion and even rejection by the Opposition. But the question now is, who will be that strong voice of reason? Who will keep the government in check when it will steer away from its mandate?

That mantle falls on the Opposition and the Congress now has to work towards that. As per the election tally, Congress should get All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which has 37 seats, and Trinamool Congress (TMC), which has 34 seats into the wagon, to form a strong Opposition.

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