Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, objecting to the one-year extension in tenure to Lok Sabha secretary-general TK Vishwanathan.
In her letter, Swaraj said the conduct of Viswanathan, who was Union law secretary, "is not fit for the post." She also held that only an employee of Parliament's secretariat should be appointed to the post.
She also said, "You did not hold a formal meeting with the Leader of Opposition (herself) and leader of the House (Pranab Mukherjee) and informal talks on this cannot be an alternative for a formal meeting. It is a must for the three to sit together before the decision."
Swaraj reminded Kumar that she had objected to Vishwanathan's appointment 11 months ago. "You would remember that at the time of his appointment last year I had said that the secretary-general should be somebody from the Lok Sabha secretariat only."
"At that time, you had said that no official from the Lok Sabha secretariat is a deserving candidate for the post, so we can appoint the present secretary-general for 11 months and will keep your suggestion in mind the next year," Swaraj said.
Viswanathan was appointed in October 2010 to succeed PDT Achary, who had got three extensions.
Swaraj said there is a "regular cadre" of the Lok Sabha in which people have been working for decades with the hope that at some stage they will be promoted to the post of Lok Sabha secretary general. Bringing a retired official from outside and making him secretary general not only belies their claim but also lowers their morale and "develops an atmosphere of frustration."
Kumar said, "it is unethical for me to comment on it." Sources in the Speaker's office said Swaraj in her letter had not denied that she was not consulted. "The objection raised by the leader of the opposition is regarding the formal meeting between her, the Speaker and the leader of the House."
They also pointed out that there were precedents of the Speaker having exercised discretions in matters of extension. "A formal consultation is required in the case of a fresh appointment, this was the practice during Somnath Chatterjee's tenure also," sources said.