The Lok Sabha landscape is going for a makeover with many losing the coveted rooms and many others for the first time managing to get space to put up their nameplates.
A party’s strength in both Houses dictates who gets prime real estate in the building which usually is the ground floor. Those with poor presence are pushed up to the dank third floor. The proximity to the ruling dispensation equally is a deciding factor.
The Telugu Desam Party, which is now down to three MPs from the earlier 16, could lose the capacious ground floor office they have been occupying since 1999 which was allotted to them by then Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi. “There is no official notification but last week Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi took a tour of the office. Since then we are seeing a steady stream of various BJP functionaries,” a TDP leader said.
Their regional opponents, the YSR Congress, whose ranks swelled from nine in 2014 to 22 now, are eyeing the prized space. “We have only one room on the third floor which was okay till now. But now with 22 in the Lok Sabha and two in the Rajya Sabha we have put in a request for a larger space,” Lok Sabha floor leader Mithun Reddy told The Hindu.
The YSR Congress is not the only one to eye the TDP rooms. In 2014, an unseemly squabble had broken out between the Trinamool Congress and the TDP over the rooms with Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandhopadhyay and late Sultan Ahmed trying to move into the room claiming that it had been allotted to their party. The TDP though stood its ground and refused to vacate the premises. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan intervened to allot a much smaller space to the Trinamool and let the TDP, who were then a key ally, keep their office.
The changes in the fortunes could impact the AIADMK too which holds a spacious office on the ground floor, right next to the Central Hall. In 2014, the party had 37 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 13 in the Rajya Sabha. Now with a lone Lok Sabha MP, their rival DMK has shown interest in the space. “The Lok Sabha rooms are allotted by the Speaker as per his or her discretion. And the Lok Sabha strength is not the only factor dictating this,” a senior AIADMK MP said.
The DMK with 23 Lok Sabha MPs is now hopeful of moving out of the third floor office. “In 2009 when we got 18 MPs we were allotted a bigger space on the ground floor but we never got to move in as the JD(U) refused to move out. But this time around we will fight for a bigger office,” DMK Rajya Sabha MP T.K.S. Elangovan said.
The CPI(M), which has been steadily losing presence in the Lok Sabha, might lose their third floor office. Though the party had nine MPs in 2014, the Lok Sabha Secretariat wanted it to vacate the space. Now with just three MPs, the party will find it hard to hold on. “There is speculation but we have not got any official notification asking us to vacate,” a party leader said.
BJP leader Arun Jaitely’s nameplate will be replaced by that of the leader of the Rajya Sabha, Thawar Chand Gehlot. Mr. Jaitley was allotted the room next to the entrance to the Upper House and used to have a steady stream of visitors — both journalists and leaders from all parties.