New Delhi: There are new fissures in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party, over the chairmanship of parliamentary committees.
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Thursday came out in the open against the party’s plan to propose the name of colleague Jaswant Singh as public accounts committee (PAC) chairman, with Sinha as a member.
“This is what the party has found me worthy of...a man who has been Union minister and has presented the Union Budget several times. I can only thank my party for this stupendous offer,” Sinha told reporters.
Speaking out: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
Sushma Swaraj, deputy leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, on Wednesday said the party would propose the names of Singh, Sinha and Gopinath Munde for its quota in the powerful committee and suggested that Singh could be elected chairman in the first week of August.
On Thursday, when asked about Sinha’s reaction, Swaraj only said, “It is the prerogative of the Speaker to announce the chairman.”
According to convention, the chairmanship of the PAC is offered to the Opposition in Parliament. Singh, also a former Union finance minister, had kept away from the Budget session after differences with the party. He had objected to the appointments of Swaraj as deputy leader in the lower house and Arun Jaitley as leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha by senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.
“In?the BJP, one’s worth waxes and wanes like the moon. It does not really increase with time, I feel so,” Sinha said. Sinha recently resigned from all party posts after the party’s defeat in the April-May general election, demanding a “thorough analysis” of its failure.
Apart from the three important financial committees, the PAC, public estimates committee and the committee on public undertakings, the BJP may get to lead one more parliamentary committee. In the previous Lok Sabha, the BJP had the Committee on Scheduled Tribes in its quota.
Strife among senior BJP members also seems imminent over the chairmanship of Parliament’s department-related standing committees.
Of a total of 24 such committees, 16 are headed by Lok Sabha members and the rest by Rajya Sabha members. The BJP, with 116 seats in the Lok Sabha and 42 in the Rajya Sabha, is slated to chair four committees based on its strength in the lower house and two based on its representation in the upper house.
The BJP leadership has zeroed in on Swaraj to head the standing committee on external affairs, Murli Manohar Joshi for finance and Sumitra Mahajan for rural development, Swaraj told reporters. The party has not yet decided on a leader for the committee on chemical and fertilizer.
Some leaders such as Shahnawaz Hussain, who is the sole Muslim MP (member of Parliament) of the party, are seeking committee chairmanships, a senior party leader said, asking not to be named. “It could be a difficult call for (the) party to take a decision without antagonizing the seniors.”
Meanwhile, the BJP has also decided against nominating leaders defeated in the Lok Sabha polls to the Rajya Sabha in the bypolls. “We have decided not to nominate those defeated in Lok Sabha polls to Rajya Sabha this time,” Swaraj told reporters.
This may have a bearing on the fate of many senior leaders, including party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who was defeated from the Rampur seat in Uttar Pradesh.