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Business News/ News / India/  Parliamentary committees to get reconstituted ahead of monsoon session
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Parliamentary committees to get reconstituted ahead of monsoon session

Lok Sabha speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman have asked political parties to suggest names for leading parliamentary committees
  • It is an established procedure that after the first year of government, all standing committees get extended automatically
  • Senior leaders argue that while the Lok Sabha speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman are following the rules, it is difficult to understand why established procedures are not being followed. (Mint)Premium
    Senior leaders argue that while the Lok Sabha speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman are following the rules, it is difficult to understand why established procedures are not being followed. (Mint)

    NEW DELHI: In a major decision to overhaul all the parliamentary standing committees before the start of upcoming monsoon session, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu have reached out to parliamentary party leaders of key political parties to suggest names of Members of Parliament (MPs) who could lead these committees.

    The decision of the speaker and chairman not only means that some of the chairmen of committee could be replaced but it could also indicate what happens to senior Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Anand Sharma who head parliamentary committees and were part of the 23 Congress leaders who had written a letter to demand a systematic overhaul in the organisation to party president Sonia Gandhi. Consequently, the ongoing parliamentary scrutiny of Facebook too is closely linked with any changes in the IT (information technology) committee. If the chairman gets changed then they would play a key role in deciding whether to continue, delay or not take up further scrutiny at all in the matter.

    “This is perhaps the first time that the speaker has asked all the leaders of parliamentary parties to suggest names for standing committees after first year. The earlier procedure was that chief of standing committees would get automatic extension in the first year of government. Since general elections used to affect the one-year period for which standing committees used to be formed, it was an established procedure that in the first year of government, all standing committees would get extended automatically," said a senior parliamentarian who is also chief of a standing committee.

    Senior leaders of political parties argue that while Lok Sabha speaker and Rajya Sabha chairman both are following the rules, it was difficult to understand why the established procedures were not being followed.

    The decision could also impact the fate of key Congress leaders and former Union ministers like Tharoor, Sharma and Jairam Ramesh who are heading the information technology, home affairs as well as science and technology, environment, forests and climate change committees, respectively. Ramesh, who was not a signatory of the letter, was recently named as the chief whip of the Congress party in Rajya Sabha.

    The tenure of Tharoor has come into focus not just because he was part of the group of 23 leaders who had signed the letter but also because his tenure saw political confrontation with ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members after he decided to invite officials of Facebook before the IT committee. In a story done by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), it was alleged that the social media platform had ignored to act against the hate speeches made by some of the leaders of BJP.

    “The tenure of the IT committee ends on 11 September and we are given to believe that contours of its reconstitution would be announced soon. It is difficult to say at this stage what will happen to the chairperson but it is a fact that at least two BJP members of the panel had written to Birla demanding his removal, it all depends on what decision is finally taken," an opposition member of the IT committee said requesting anonymity.

    Senior Congress leaders feel that if the recent changes in the party are of any indication, the senior leadership has indicated that younger leaders were being promoted particularly overlooking those who were signatories of the letter. In the Lok Sabha for instance young faces—Gaurav Gogoi as deputy leader and Ravneet Singh Bittu as whip—were appointed recently. Several organisational changes were made in Uttar Pradesh but it did not accommodate key leaders from the state who were signatories of the letter.

    “Such calls are taken by party’s top leadership including the Congress president. While we have seen recently that younger leaders are being promoted in Parliament, it is also a fact that its senior leaders including former Union ministers come with deep institutional knowledge. Any changes would be all about timing and what kind of a message the party wants to send to those who wrote the letter," a senior Lok Sabha MP from Congress, who is member of a parliamentary committee, said requesting anonymity.

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    Published: 08 Sep 2020, 10:26 AM IST
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