Defying precedences, the ruling BJP has kept the chairmanship of most of the parliamentary panels that scrutinises the key ministries dealing with security affairs. It has left to the opposition just the Home Affairs, headed by party president Amit Shah.
While senior Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma is to chair the Committee on Home Affairs in the newly constituted parliamentary panels, BJP MPs will head the standing committees on Finance, Defence and External Affairs. As the Lok Sabha secretariat updated the details of parliament, the opposition parties have been given the chairmanship of Science and Technology and Environment, Health, Information Technology, Food and Consumer Affairs, Labour and Chemicals &Fertilizers.
The usual practice of Opposition leaders heading the committees on external affairs and finance has been discontinued. The Congress party has already expressed its disappointment over the move. BJP MP and former union minister Jayant Sinha will chair the key committee on Finance, former ministers Jual Oram and P P Choudhary are going to head the panels on defence and external affairs, respectively.
Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Bhupender Yadav is heading the committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice. BJP’s Rakesh Singh is chairing the committee on Coal and Steel, Ramesh Bidhuri (Petroleum &Natural Gas), Rama Devi (Social Justice and Empowerment), Satynarayan Jatiya (HRD), K Keshava Rao (Industry) Jagadambika Pal (Urban Development) and Sanjay Jaiswal (Water Resources).
V Vijayasai Reddy of the YSRCP, considered to be friendly to the BJP at the centre, is appointed to chair the panel on Commerce, BJD’s Bhartruhari Mehtab is heading the committee on Labour, ally JD(U) MP Rajiv Ranjan will chair the Energy panel, Shiv Sena MP Prataprao Jadhav heads the Rural Development panel.
DMK MP M Kanimozhi will chair the committee that scrutinises the Chemicals and Fertiliser ministry. Shashi Tharoor who had headed the panel on external affairs committee in the 16th Lok Sabha is now been given the chairmanship of Information Technology panel. Tharoor had tweeted: “Its official. Govt has decided to end the tradition of the leading opposition party chairing the External Affairs Committee. Apparently, a BJP MP will now hold the BJP Govt accountable instead. One more blow to our soft power, image & international reputation as a mature democracy.”
Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav chairs the panel on Health and Family Welfare.
The chairmanship of panels on Railways and Agriculture, apparently much sought after committees, has been given to former ministers and senior BJP leaders Radha Mohan Singh and P C Gaddigoudar. The post for the panel on Transport, Tourism and Culture is gone to Rajya Sabha member T G Venkatesh who has joined the BJP from TDP recently. TMC’s Derek O’Brien was heading it. In the newly constituted panels, TMC’s Lok Sabha MP Sudhip Bandhyopadhyay has been chosen to head the standing committee on Food Consumer Affairs and PDS.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who was a member of the panel on external affairs, has now been moved to the parliamentary panel on defence, which is headed by Jual Oram.
Standing committees are allocated by Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman on the recommendation of the government.