In the latest rejig of the parliamentary standing committees, the government has conveyed to Congress that it will not get the chairmanship of the committee on Home Affairs. As per sources, the Trinamool Congress is also likely to lose chairmanship of the lone committee it had.
Protesting against the move, the Congress has written to the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal, reminding him that traditionally chairpersons of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs have been from the principal Opposition party.
According to sources, Mr. Goyal, on September 16, phoned Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, informing him that considering the Congress’s depleted ranks in the Upper House, it can only be allotted chairmanship of a single committee. The Chairman of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs would be picked from another Opposition party. The Congress’s strength in the Rajya Sabha is now down to 31, from 34 in March.
Mr. Kharge, according to the sources, has written a letter to Mr. Goyal to register his protest. He said that while he appreciated that the numerical strength of a political party determined allocation of the post of the Chairpersons to respective party, in a democracy “the accommodating understanding or principle of give and take go a long way in ensuring effective functioning of institutions like the Parliament”.
“Traditionally also, the Chairpersons of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs have been from principal Opposition parties,” Mr. Kharge wrote.
According to sources, the party will continue to hold chairmanship of the Standing Committee on Information and Technology which comes under the ambit of the Lok Sabha. However, with the present Chairperson, Shashi Tharoor, likely to contest the Congress presidential election, it is not clear whether the party will allow him to continue in the post.
The Trinamool Congress, meanwhile, is all set to lose the chairmanship of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, which is headed by the party’s Lok Sabha floor leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay.
The BJP, according to sources, is retaliating for the way the Trinamool dished out committees in the West Bengal Assembly. As per the Trinamool, chairmanship of nine committees were given to BJP MLAs. Out of these, Mukul Roy returned to the Trinamool and the others resigned from their posts.