Sonia and Mulayam Lok Sabha neighbours?
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi may find Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh and former PM Deve Gowda as her neighbours in Lok Sabha when it meets on July 7.
Congress’s vastly diminished tally of 44 MPs means the party will get just two front row seats on the opposition benches, with these going to leader of the party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Sonia.
The first seat on the opposition benches, to the left of the Speaker’s chair, is occupied by the deputy Speaker and it is far from certain whether this will go to Congress.
Previously as leader of opposition Sonia did have the seat next to the deputy Speaker, but the spot now goes to Kharge who has been elected leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha.
Sonia will be seated on a bench that can occupy four with Mulayam and Gowda next to her. The fourth seat is expected to go to BJD’s senior leader Bhartruhari Mahtab.
The Congress president’s choice of neighbours narrowed after Trinamool Congress and AIADMK expressed a desire to sit in the second block of Opposition seats rather than share the first with Congress.
The first block of 90-odd seats will be occupied by Congress, NCP, BJD and other smaller parties. During the initial days of the 16th Lok Sabha, the Trinamool crew had also sat alongside Congress, spurring some comment.
This time around, Trinamool seems to have decided to ensure its MPs do not sit on the same rows as Congress, perhaps in a bid to mark out likely floor coordination with other regional parties.