Congress loses big in Parliamentary Standing Committee reshuffle

Deccan Herald, October 05, 2022

Congress has lost the chairmanship of Parliamentary Standing Committees on Home and Information Technology to the BJP and Shiv Sena in the latest reshuffle while Trinamool Congress, TRS and Samajwadi Party have lost chairpersonship of panels which they were holding.

Abhishek Singhvi lost chairmanship of Home panel to BJP MP Brij Lal, a former Uttar Pradesh Director General, while Sena’s Prataprao Jadhav is the new head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology replacing Congress’ Shashi Tharoor. Congress’ Jairam Ramesh will continue to head the Science and Technology panel.

Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav has been removed as head of the Health panel, which will now be headed by BJP’s Bhubaneswar Kalita  while Trinamool Congress’ Sudeep Bandyopadhyay will not head the Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution committee will be headed by BJP’s Locket Chatterjee.

With this, the chairs of six major parliamentary committees — Home, IT, Defence, External Affairs, Finance and Health — are all with the BJP or its allies.

Chairpersons and members for 22 of the 24 Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees were announced on Tuesday, whose reconstitution was due in September every year. The committees on Commerce and Chemicals and Fertilisers, which is likely to go to the Congress, will be announced soon, sources said.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will once again be in the Defence panel headed by BJP’s Jual Oram while former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will continue in the Jayant Sinha-headed Finance panel, which will have former Finance Minister P Chidambaram as a new member. Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda is in Water Resources panel.

Incidentally, Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, who has written to party chief Sonia Gandhi to relieve himself of the post after he entered the presidential election, has not been named in any of the 22 panels.

“Third largest party in Parliament, All India Trinamool Congress, also second largest opposition party, does not get even one chairmanship. Also, the largest opposition party (Congress) loses two crucial chairmanships of Parliament committees. This is the stark reality of New India,” Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha floor leader Derek O’Brien said.

Tagging O’Brien’s tweet, Congress General Secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh said, “this is Modindia.” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had earlier written to Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla protesting against the move, after the government intimated them about the plans.

Congress sources said they could make a political point on the issue of not giving chairpersonships of prominent panels but they were on a weak wicket as their numbers, especially in Rajya Sabha, are at its lowest ebb. “BJP had at least 45 MPs, the lowest for them, when they headed the Home panel. We are now down to 31 and there are limitations,” a senior leader said.

Vivek Thakur of the BJP will head the Education panel while DMK’s Tiruchi Siva will lead the Industry panel in place of TRS’ K Keshava Rao. V Vijayasai Reddy of YSR Congress will head the transport panel.

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