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BJP MPs meeting to elect Advani as opposition leader


New Delhi : A meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) newly elected MPs here later Sunday is set to formally elect party veteran L.K. Advani as leader of the opposition in the house, while it is also likely to discuss names for the deputy leader’s post.

“Advani will be elected (as leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha) and the party’s strategy for the parliament session would also be discussed,” BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS.

In reply to a query, he said names for the post of the deputy leader could also be discussed.

Reliable party sources said that Sushma Swaraj, who won the elections from Madhya Pradesh, is the front-runner for the post. “It is more or less final, but a formal announcement would come later,” a party leader told IANS, requesting anonymity for he is not authorised to speak to the media on such issues.

On this, Naqvi only said: “You will get to know, what’s the hurry?”

The first session of the 15th Lok Sabha begins Monday with the swearing in of new members. The speaker will be elected June 3, and President Pratibha Patil will address a joint session of both houses June 4.

The BJP has 116 members in the new Lok Sabha.

Asked about the party’s candidate for the post of deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha which by tradition is allotted to the opposition, Naqvi said: “It will be decided in consultation with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners.”

He said there were other leaders also in the BJP, when asked about rumours of party leader Sumitra Mahajan being considered for the post.

In the 14th Lok Sabha, the post was with Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP’s partner in the NDA. This time round the BJP is likely to keep the post for itself though its key ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U) is pitching for its Bihar unit chief Rajiv Ranjan Singh.