PM wants MPs with conflict of interest out of House panels

Prime MInister Narendra Modi intervenes following BJP MPs’ statements on tobacco

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is learnt to have told senior BJP colleagues that party MPs who have conflict of interest should avoid becoming members of parliamentary committees. Sources said that the Prime Minister raised the issue with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu on the sidelines of the BJP National Executive meeting in Bengaluru on Saturday.

Mr. Modi’s intervention comes against the backdrop of India’s commitment to increase the size of pictorial warnings on cigarette and bidi packets running into trouble after the subordinate legislation panel set up to look into the issue shot down the proposal, saying tobacco use does not cause cancer. Dilip Gandhi, BJP MP and head of the panel, said tobacco consumers could live more than 100 years.

Tobacco lobby exercising power: Cong.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s reported instructions to Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda to ensure larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packets, the Congress said here on Saturday that it was just another “jumla” and the previous Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had lost his job because of his opposition to the tobacco lobby.

Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar told presspersons on Saturday, “Harsh Vardhan wanted to bring legislation that those below 25 years would not be sold cigarettes and that cigarettes will not be sold in singles.”

This is not the first time that such a “conflict of interest” has arisen. In the 15th Lok Sabha, P.B. Kore (BJP), M.A.M. Ramaswamy (JD-S) and D.R. Meghe (Congress) were members of the Standing Committee on Health, though they were in the management of medical colleges; venture capitalist Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and industrialist Vijay Darda were members of the Finance Committees and Vijay Mallya, owner of Kingfisher Airlines, was on the Standing Committee on Civil Aviation.

The Lok Sabha rules say, “An MP may object to another MP joining a parliamentary committee on grounds that he has personal, pecuniary or direct interest. Till the Speaker’s decision, the MP cannot vote in the committee. If the Speaker decides against the MP, he shall quit as a member of the committee.” The Rajya Sabha rules say, “Before participating in a debate, an MP has to declare any personal or pecuniary interest in a matter under consideration by RS or a committee, even if it is not declared. In case of a division, an MP’s vote can be challenged on the above grounds.

A letter from the Editor

Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 25, 2020 8:40:28 PM |

Next Story