Big rejig: Ex-ministers now part of key house panels

Bihar’s former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi has replaced Bhupendra Yadav as the chairman of the Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice panel. The former has become the Union minister of environment and sciences and the labour minister in July this year.
There are 24 standing committees and each panel has 11 members of Rajya Sabha and 20 of Lok Sabha.(Mohd Zakir/HT file photo)
There are 24 standing committees and each panel has 11 members of Rajya Sabha and 20 of Lok Sabha.(Mohd Zakir/HT file photo)
Published on Oct 10, 2021 01:39 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

In the biggest reshuffle of Parliament’s department-related standing committees since 2019, senior BJP leaders, who were dropped as ministers during the cabinet rejig in July, have been accommodated in key House panels.

Bihar’s former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi has replaced Bhupendra Yadav as the chairman of the Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice panel. The former has become the Union minister of environment and sciences and the labour minister in July this year. Two top-ranking Opposition leaders—the Congress’s Abhishek Singhvi and Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien—shifted to the home affairs committee at a time when the junior minister for home affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra is in choppy waters over the Lakhimpur violence which killed eight people after a car mowed down protesting farmers in UP.

The newly created ministry of cooperation is yet to be allocated to any House panel. Officials pointed out that the House has to take a decision

Among former cabinet ministers, Ravi Shankar Prasad is in the finance panel, Prakash Javadekar and Harsh Vardhan are in external affairs, Sadanand Gowda in defence, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in law and Santosh Gangwar in the commerce panel.

The reshuffle, for the first time, also saw at least 28 Rajya Sabha MPs being shifted out of their existing panels due to poor attendance, according to a senior official. Out of the 237 Rajya Sabha members nominated by chairman Venkaiah Naidu for the 24 department-related standing committees for 2021-22, a total of 50 members of the Upper house also have been placed in new committees.

“This includes 28 members who had poor attendance in the meetings of committees held during 2020-21. 12 of these 28 members didn’t attend any meeting in the last one year due to Covid or elections,” said a senior Rajya Sabha official.

The entry of O’Brien and Singhvi in the home affairs committee assumes significance as both leaders have been vocal critics of the functioning of the home ministry over various issues including internal security.

Singhvi told HT, “It’s a privilege to serve on any parliamentary standing committee. But home affairs always has a wide jurisdictional outlook and raises many challenging issues.” O’Brien’s joining comes when the Bengal government, ruled by the Trinamool Congress, has frequently been at loggerheads with the home ministry.

While a detailed analysis of shifting of Lok Sabha members was awaited, most of the changes involving 50 members of the Rajya Sabha were suggested by the respective parties. Among the major changes, Chaya Devi Verma has moved from Agriculture to Social Justice and Empowerment while Prof Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD has shifted from railways to labour. Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohel will join the transport panel from IT committee while the BJD’s Sasmit Patra is now in the education committee from the law and justice committee.

Trinamool’s Mausam Noor goes from the Commerce to the Water Resources panel and world champion in boxing, nominated member MC Mary Kom, has opted for the Urban Development panel from the food body. Indu Bala Goswami will be in the health panel.

There are 24 standing committees and each panel has 11 members of Rajya Sabha and 20 of Lok Sabha.

“All three Shiv Sena members in the Rajya Sabha got new panels. Sanjay Raut moves to External Affairs from Defence, Anil Desai from Coal and Steel to Commerce and Priyanka Chaturvedi from Commerce to Transport, Tourism and Culture. All 3 had good attendance last year,” said another official.

Data for Rajya Sabha members suggests that 9 BJP members, 6 from Trinamool, Congress (4), 3 members each from Sena, CPM, RJD, YSRCP and 2 each from DMK,BJD and TRS have been shifted to new panels as per the consultations with the parties. All other parties have seen at least one member shifting to another panel.

 

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022