‘Sidelined’ Bharti, Birla back in play, will head key house panels

  • Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 25, 2015 02:45 IST

Somnath Bharti and Rakhi Birla, two firebrand ministers in Aam Aadmi Party’s previous 49-day cabinet, finally have important assignments, in the Delhi Assembly at least.

Having failed to find a place in the seven-member cabinet and even a team of 21 MLAs to assist ministers in the Delhi secretariat, the two will head one committee each in the House.

The assembly has a total of 22 committees. For 18 committees, with nine members each, the Speaker makes nominations. The rest have 30 members and they are elected. Because AAP swept the February 7 assembly elections, winning 67 of the 70 seats, elections and nominations are a mere formality.

Bharti will head a privileges committee, which examines notices of ‘privileges and contempt of the House’ referred to it by the Speaker. As law minister, Bharti had led a vigilante raid to bust a suspected sex racket in a south Delhi neighbourhood.

Birla, who had as women and child welfare minister sparked a row by taking on policemen in cases of violence against women, will chair the panel on women and children.

The committee may examine the functioning of welfare homes, hospitals, asylums, education institutions, and prisons in the capital.

Girish Soni, another minister in AAP’s previous stint, and ignored so far despite his non-controversial image, will head the important public accounts committee, which examines financial accounts, and audit reports.

“The notification for the election of four committees has been issued. I will be nominating the members and heads of the rest 18 panels. The task has to be completed before April 1,” Speaker Ram Niwas Goel told Hindustan Times.

There are about half a dozen committees which mostly deal with the functioning of the House. They will be headed by either Goel or his deputy Bandana Kumari.

There are some more Aam Aadmi Party MLAs who will be heading assembly panels. Hajari Lal Chauhan will look after SC/ST welfare, while Sahi Ram will deal with matters related to OBC. Imran Hussain has been assigned the panel on minority welfare, while Pramila Tokas will focus on environment.

ND Sharma has been assigned a panel on ethics.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has already appointed 21 MLAs as ‘parliamentary secretaries’ to assist his six ministers. Since the Delhi Assembly was reconstituted in 1993, there have never been more than three parliamentary secretaries in one government.

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