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Sunday, October 24, 2021

House committees reconstituted: BJP retains key panels; Cong’s Sharma keeps Home,Tharoor IT panel head

Shashi Tharoor's chairmanship of the previous standing committee had been repeatedly criticised by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: October 10, 2021 8:02:37 am
Tharoor's chairmanship of the previous standing committee had been repeatedly challenged by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey. (File Photo)

Despite pressure from some BJP members to replace him, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor will continue as chairman of the Parliamentary panel on Information Technology, as the committees were reconstituted more than three weeks after their tenure ended.

Senior BJP leader and former Bihar deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi was appointed chairman of the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice. All other existing chairpersons were retained.

The BJP continues to chair the key committees, except Home Affairs, which will continue to be headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma.

Rajiv Ranjan Singh, newly elected chairman of JD(U), will be the new chairman of the Standing Committee on Energy. Although there was some speculation that there could be major changes in the panels, both Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla more or less retained the panels’ composition.

Newly elected Rajya Sabha MPs have been nominated to the reconstituted committees. However, their composition changed, as some of the members had been inducted into the Union Council of Ministers in the July 7 Cabinet expansion.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was dropped from the Cabinet, has been accommodated in the House panel on Finance, headed by Jayant Sinha. Prakash Javadekar and Harsh Vardhan, also dropped from the Cabinet, are in the External Affairs panel, headed by P P Choudhary.

The IT committee was caught in controversy several times in its last tenure, with BJP MPs objecting to the panel’s decisions to summon Facebook for allegations against the social media giant for ignoring hate speeches by some BJP leaders. During the Monsoon Session, Dubey had moved a privilege notice against Tharoor after the IT panel tried to take up the controversial Pegasus spyware issue.

Tharoor had also given a notice for breach of privilege against Dubey, alleging that the latter made “disparaging remarks” on social media over his decision to summon a panel meeting to discuss alleged “misconduct” of Facebook.

Congress’s Jairam Ramesh will head the panel on Science and Technology and Environment, and Forests and Climate Change.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi remains in the Defence committee, which is headed by BJP leader Jual Oram. Ramesh Bidhuri, BJP MP from South Delhi, will head the panel on Petroleum and Natural Gas, Jagadambika Pal continues to be chairman of Urban Development panel. BJP Rajya Sabha member Vinay Sahasrabuddhe retains chairmanship of the committee on Education; Radha Mohan Singh of the Railways committee, and Sanjay Jaiswal of the panel on Water Resources.

BJP leaders Rama Devi heads Social Justice and Empowerment panel; PC Gaddigoudar the committee on Agriculture; Rakesh Singh the Coal and Steel panel, and T G Venkatesh heads Transport, Tourism and Culture committee.

The panel on Labour is headed by BJD’s Bhartruhari Mehtab; Rural Development by Shiv Sena’s Prataprao Jadhav; the committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution by TMC’s Sudhip Bandypadhyay; Chemical and Fertiliser by K Kanimozhi of DMK; K Keshava Rao of TRS chairs the committee on Industry; the Health panel is chaired by SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav; and YSRCP’s V Vijayasai Reddy continues to head the Parliamentary committee on Commerce.

Some members have been moved to new committees. While Sena’s Sanjay Raut has been moved from Defence to External Affairs, his party colleagues Anil Desai has been shifted from Coal and Steel to Commerce, and Priyanka Chaturvedi from Commerce to Transport, Tourism and Culture.

RJD’s Manoj Kumar Jha has been moved from Railways to Labour committee, Congress’s Shaktisinh Gohil from IT to Transport. Similarly, Congress’s Abhishek Singhvi has been moved from the panel on Defence to Home; and TMC’s Derek O’ Brien, who was a member of the panel on Transport, has been shifted to the Home Affairs panel.

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