New Delhi: Though denied the status of the Leader of Opposition, Mallikarjun Kharge has been allotted the seat normally given to LoP in the Lok Sabha next to that of the Deputy Speaker in the Opposition benches.
Kharge, who is the leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, will share the front row with party President Sonia Gandhi, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda under the arrangement decided by the Speaker who also allotted division numbers to the members.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi will be seated in the second row, behind his mother when the House meets from next Monday for the Winter Session of Parliament. Division numbers are alloted to members so that when voting takes place they cast their votes from the allotted seat.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been given the front row seat next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the treasury benches, along with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and BJP veteran L K Advani. While seat number 5 in the treasury benches has been kept vacant, number 6 has been allotted to Surface Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Law Minister Sadanand Gowda and another BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi and Union ministers Ananth Kumar and Anant Geeta, who represents Shiv Sena in the Cabinet, and Ashok Gajpati Raju of TDP and Ram Vilas Paswan of LJP will also occupy front row seat in the treasury benches.
On the opposition benches, Bhartruhari Mahtab of BJD and Sudip Bandhopadhyay of TMC will also occupy front row seats.
P Venugopal of the AIADMK is also in the front row of the opposition benches where the Congress President will be sitting along with Mulayam, Kharge and Thambidurai.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti shares the second row along with Congress leader Kamal Nath, NCP's Tariq Anwar, Rahul Gandhi and Capt Amarinder Singh, who is the deputy leader of Congress. Mohammad Salim of CPI(M) is in the third row, along with Kaushlendra Kumar of JD(U).
The announcement about allocation of seats came just two days ahead of the begining of the Winter Session of Parliament. The exercise took some six months since the 16th Lok Sabha came into being.
Congress has not been able to secure the Leader of the Opposition post as it fell short of the required 55 by 11 seats.