For the first time in about three decades, opposition parties won the chair of any of the four main parliamentary panels in the latest reshuffle announced on Tuesday. Congressman Shashi Tharoor, who led the IT panel, was replaced by a lawmaker from the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena. The Home Affairs Committee, which was also part of Congress, was also lost.
Congressman Jairam Ramesh, however, was retained as chairman of the science and technology, environment, forestry and climate change committee.
With that, the chairmen of six major parliamentary committees – Interior, IT, Defence, External Affairs, Finance and Health – are now all with the BJP and its allies.
Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi has been replaced by BJP MP and retired IPS officer Brij Lal as chairman of the parliamentary Home Affairs Standing Committee.
Shashi Tharoor, who is contesting the party’s presidential elections, was replaced by Prataprao Jadhav, a Shiv Sena MP from the Shinde faction.
In a letter to President Om Birla last month, Lok Sabha Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said he was “dismayed” to learn from Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi that a “decision has been taken to withdraw the attribution of the role of Chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Informatics”.
Stating that this is a departure from existing conventions that have been honored by successive governments, Mr. Chowdhury said: “Government must understand that the principle of deliberation and consultation, as well as conventions that encourage bipartisan cooperation in the operation of bodies such as the DSRCs, should be honoured.”
According to sources, Rajya Sabha opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge had also written a letter to House leader Piyush Goyal, protesting the government’s decision to “remove” the chairmanship of the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee in Congress.
The opposition party lost the chairmanship of the House panels on external affairs and finance after the 2019 general election.
The Trinamool Congressman, who chaired the House Food and Consumers Group, was not named chair of any House committee after the reshuffle.
“TMC is the third largest party in Parliament, and the second largest opposition party does not get a single chair. The largest opposition party loses two crucial standing committee chairs. This is the harsh reality of the new India,” TMC chief in Rajya Sabha Derek O’Brien said in a statement.
Samajwadi party leader Ramgopal Yadav has been replaced as chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare.
The food panel will be chaired by BJP MP Locket Chatterjee and Health by fellow party member Vivek Thakur.
In addition, the DMK has been given the chairmanship of the parliamentary panel on industry, which has so far been with the TRS.
There are 24 standing parliamentary committees, 16 of which are headed by Lok Sabha members and eight by Rajya Sabha members.
The juries are constituted each year.