Though a Rajya Sabha member, the BJP chief has chosen to ignore convention
BJP president Amit Shah, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha last August, will not join any parliamentary committee, unlike a majority of fellow MPs.
Following the retirement and re-election of over 50 Rajya Sabha members, the eight standing committees are being reconstituted. BJP sources say the list submitted by the BJP does not include Mr. Shah’s name.
Mr. Shah made his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha this February.
Defending his decision not to join any panels, senior BJP leaders said it was not unusual. “Many party chiefs before him, too, have done it. For example, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi was not part of any parliamentary committee. Even after stepping down from the party post, she has not joined any panel. BSP leader Mayawati, too, was not part of any panel while she was a member of the Upper House,” a senior BJP leader said.
While there is no written rule that makes it mandatory for an MP to be part of parliamentary standing committees, it is a norm followed by a majority of the lawmakers.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, during his tenure in the Rajya Sabha, headed the panel on Transport, Tourism and Culture.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a part of the Finance committee and is known to attend every meeting meticulously.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is a member of the External Affairs Committee.
In an important change, according to sources, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, industrialist, who till recently was in the Defence committee, has been shifted to the finance committee.
Questions over conflict of interest had been raised earlier over his presence in the Defence committee since companies owned by him have a business interest in the sector.
G.V.L. Narsimha Rao, newly elected Rajya Sabha member of the BJP, also finds a place in the Finance panel.
BJP leader Bhupender Yadav, who retains the record of heading nearly a dozen parliamentary committees, retains his position as Chairman of the Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and on Law and Justice. The BJP’s media in-charge Anil Baluni has been placed with committees on science and technology and environment & forests.
Undermining the system
There are 24 standing committees (eight with Rajya Sabha and 16 with Lok Sabha) to scrutinise in detail decisions, legislation and workings of the government. They work as a second layer of protection and accountability.
The panels include housekeeping committees such as those on ethics, privileges, food and so on.
In the last three-and-a-half years, only seven of 72 Bills were referred to standing committees for legislative scrutiny. The Opposition has accused the government of making the system of standing committees defunct.