New Delhi: The Congress, which is entitled to two front row seats in the Lok Sabha in keeping with its strength in the House, is likely to be allotted an extra seat, Lok Sabha secretariat sources said.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose Samajwadi Party was reduced to just five seats in the Lok Sabha this time, is unlikely to be accommodated in the front row after years as a front-bencher.
Sources said the ruling BJP might oblige Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Deve Gowda as he is a former Prime Minister. And for the first time in two decades, the Left parties will be missing from the front row.
The seating arrangement in the 16th Lok Sabha is likely to be finalized tomorrow in a meeting that has been convened by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Front row seats are seen as a status symbol among Parliamentarians. The BJP, as the main opposition party had five front row seats in the previous Lok Sabha, but then its strength at 114 MPs was substantially more than the Congress' 44, its lowest ever tally, this time.
The Congress has reportedly petitioned the Speaker to give it four seats in the front row. Sources said they are unlikely to get two more and as the second largest party in the House might have to settle for three seats, if the government agrees to be generous.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the party's leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, will occupy two of these three front row seats. Former union minister Kamal Nath, who also the most senior member of the House, may be asked to take the third.
The front row in the semi-circular hall can accommodate 20 members, including the Deputy Speaker. The BJP-led NDA, which has a strength of 334 in the Lok Sabha, is entitled to 12 seats. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will occupy the corner-most seat to the right of the Speaker. BJP president Rajnath Singh will sit next to him. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will occupy the seat next to Mr Singh.
The pecking order of the other ministers is expected to follow the line-up in which they took oath in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan on May 26. Party veteran LK Advani too will find space in the front row, sources said.
The AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress are likely to be given two seats each in the front row - J Jayalalithaa's party won 37 seats, and Mamata Banerjee's Trinammol had won 34. Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is likely to have one representative in the front row. It has 20 members.