IN A rejig of Parliamentary panels announced Tuesday evening, Opposition parties have not been allocated the chairperson’s post in any key committee with the Congress ending up with the top post in only one panel and the second largest Opposition party, Trinamool Congress, with none.
Neither of the two Opposition parties were given the chairmanship of the important panels on Home, Finance, IT, Defence and External Affairs. The move drew sharp criticism from the Opposition with the Congress describing it as a “draconian step”.
Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi has been replaced by BJP MP and retired IPS officer Brij Lal as head of the Parliamentary Standing committee on Home Affairs — the panel was earlier headed by Anand Sharma of the Congress.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who is contesting for the party’s presidential polls, has been replaced by Prataprao Jadhav, a Shiv Sena MP from the Eknath Shinde faction, as head of the panel on Information Technology.
During his term as chairman, Tharoor had come under criticism from ruling BJP MPs with Nishikant Dubey writing multiple times to the Lok Sabha Speaker to remove the Congress leader from the post, accusing him of “misconduct” in functioning — a charge that was denied by Tharoor.
The reconstitution was slammed by the Opposition.
“A draconian step by the BJP. Seems like Prime Minister Modi is fascinated by Chinese single party rule and the Russian oligarchy model,” said Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi.
“The third largest party in Parliament, also the second largest opposition party, does not get a single chairmanship. The largest opposition party loses two crucial chairmanships of Parliament Standing committees. This is the stark reality of New India,” Derek O’Brien, TMC floor leader in Rajya Sabha, posted on Twitter.
“This is Modindia,” responded senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh who has been re-appointed as chairperson of the committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
There was no mention of the committee on Commerce in the new list. The Congress has 31 MPs in the Rajya Sabha and 53 in the Lok Sabha while the TMC has 13 in the Upper House and 23 in the Lower House.
The DMK, which has 24 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 10 in the Rajya Sabha, has been given two chairman posts: Tiruchi Siva will head the panel on Industry and M Kanimozhi the committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
The Congress had earlier registered its protest at the Government’s move to take away the chairmanship of the committee on Communication and IT from the party. The party had also questioned the decision to reconstitute the committees midway through the 17th Lok Sabha.
SP leader Ramgopal Yadav has been replaced as chairperson of the committee on Health and Family Welfare by BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Bhubaneswar Kalita. The panel on food will be chaired by BJP MP Locket Chatterjee and the one on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports by her party colleague Vivek Thakur.
Jagadambika Pal, who was heading the Housing and Urban Affairs, has been replaced by JD(U)’s Rajiv Ranjan Lalan Singh. Pal will now head the committee on Energy. The Industry panel was headed by TRS’s K Keshava Rao. BJD’s Bhartruhari Mehtab will head the committee on Labour, Textiles and Skill Development.
There were no major changes in the list of BJP leaders at the helm.
Jayant Sinha will continue to head the panel on Finance, Jual Oram the defence committee, P P Choudhary the one on External Affairs — and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi will chair the committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.
The committees on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food Processing will be chaired by BJP’s Parvatagouda Chandanagouda Gaddigoudar; Railways by Radha Mohan Singh; Water Resources by Parbatbhai Savabhai Patel; Coal, Mines and Steel by Rakesh Singh; Social Justice and Empowerment by Rama Devi; and, Petroleum and Natural Gas by Ramesh Bidhuri.