Adv. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury writes Om Birla seeking the chairmanship of at least one substantive Parliamentary committee for Congress
Congress on Saturday demanded Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in a convention-based call to ensure that the party gets the presidency of at most some of the 4 largest Parliamentary committees that are substantive which include Home Affairs, External Affairs, Defence, and Finance.
In a letter addressed to Birla the day before, Congress’ leader of the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury claimed that the government was making parliamentary committees a “farce” and said that the “appropriate compensation” for taking off control of the permanent committee for IT of the Congress should be to restore the External Affairs committee to.
He said that the government is not prepared to handle the chair of a committee working professionally and with a serious attitude and with a committee acting to be an unofficial voice, expressing views that might not be in line with the present government.
Congress could lose the chair of two important committees of the parliamentary on IT and home affairs as part of an imminent change to these panels. Sources told reporters on Thursday.
In reference to his previous letter expressing concern over the government’s choice in “seizing the chairmanship of the IT Committee for itself”, Chowdhury said he is writing to demand respectable treatment of his party, the Indian National Congress, the main opposition group in the Lok Sabha, in keeping with the well-established conventions of the parliamentary system.
“While I’m still waiting for an answer to my letter and have been informed explicitly to me in writing that the decision to the IT Committee will not be changed. I am formally submitting my protest in a strong way against this blatantly arbitrary decision, that was taken without even the slightest reason,” Chowdhury said.
If the government wants to maintain its IT Committee for the ruling party the Congress chairman said that he’d insist that as the primary opposition party Congress is entitled to request one of the most important sub-committees which include the Home Affairs, External Affairs, Defence, or Finance.
Three of these four have historically been chaired by members of the Opposition Chowdhury.
“Indeed that in the preceding (Sixteenth) Lok Sabha, in the time when it was the case that the Indian National Congress had only 44 MPs in the Lok Sabha, we chaired committees that covered three of the four top ministers – Home (Anand Sharma), Finance (M Veerappa Moily) and External Affairs (Shashi Tharoor) and Defence was controlled in the hands of BJP. Today, with 53 MPs, we’ve no one of those,” he pointed out.
“I would like to respectfully ask you if the government has the right to delegate the IT
Committee on its own, proper payment to Congress party is to restore the External Affairs department to us, something that was removed from our party in 2019,” he asserted.
Chowdhury claimed that, according to the convention, the main Opposition party should have at minimum one of the four top committees.
“It is a dismaying state of affairs when the government fails to respect even the most elementary conventions of parliamentary democracy in riding roughshod over our concerns,” the minister stated in his note to Birla.
“We are all keen on having the parliamentary committee system perform well and serve the best interest of all. The way in which we were not informed of this decision is a sign of disdain on the part of the government for the Opposition’s main group,” He said.
Chowdhury in a letter addressed to Birla on September 21, stated that his chairmanship on the panel of the parliament for the information and technology (IT) was being removed from the political party.
In his letter, Chowdhury stated that he is “dismayed” to learn from the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi that there was a “decision has been taken to withdraw the allocation of the role of Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT” The committee is headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.
In announcing that this was a break from conventions in place which have been honored by previous governments, Chowdhury stated, “The government must understand that both the principle of deliberation and consultation, as well as conventions that encourage bipartisan cooperation within the functioning of critical bodies like DSRCs, must be honored.” According to reports, the Leader of The Opposition Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has sent an open letter to the PiyushGoyal, expressing his displeasure at the move of the government to “take away” the chairmanship of the committee of the house on home matters to the Congress.
The opposition party was unable to take over the chair on the House panels on foreign finances and foreign affairs following the general elections of 2019.
Presently, the Congress leads three parliamentary panels -The panel on home affairs, Abhishek Manu Singhvi chaired the home affairs committee. Tharoor chaired the committee about IT as well. Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh leads the committee on technology, environment and science.
There are 24 standing committees from which sixteen are led by Lok Sabha members and eight are headed by Rajya Sabha members.
The panels are replaced each year.