Ending a long wait, the presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament constituted department-related standing committees Monday, with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi featuring among members of the Committee on External Affairs. Earlier, he was a member of the panels on Defence and Human Resource Management.
There are 24 committees, eight chaired by members of the Rajya Sabha and 16 by members of the Lok Sabha. Each comprises 31 people ó 21 from the Lower House and 10 from the Upper House.
The Congress, single-largest group with 68 members in the Rajya Sabha, has got the chairmanship of three of the eight panels ó P Bhattacharya (Home Affairs), Ashwani Kumar (Science and Technology, Environment and Forests) and E M Sudarsana Natchiappan (Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice).
Of the remaining five, two have gone to the BJP and one each to the BSP, the Trinamool Congress and the Janata Dal(United). Consequently, veteran journalist Chadan Mitra (BJP) has been nominated the chairman of the Committee on Commerce. JD(U)ís K C Tyagi heads the Standing Committee on Industry.
From the Lok Sabha quota of 16, the Congress has been able to get the chairmanship of only two committees ó Veerappa Moily (Finance) and Shashi Tharoor (External Affairs). The party has already got the chairmanship of the vital Public Accounts Committee, a post which conventionally goes to the main Opposition party.
The BJP has got a lionís share of nine from the Lower House pool. L K Advani is a member of the Standing Committee on I-T, headed by BJP youth wing chief Anurag Thakur.
Uttarakhand ex-CM B C Khanduri is the chairman of the Standing Committee on Defence. BJPís Hukum Deo Narayan Yadav is the head of the Committee on Agriculture and Rajiv Pratap Rudy is the chairman of the Committee on Energy. A Dalit member of the BJP from Madhya Pradesh, Virendra Kumar, heads the labour panel.
TMCís Dinesh Trivedi will chair the Committee on Railways, while Pinaki Misra (BJD) will head the Committee on Urban Development and senior party member Hukum Singh will lead panel on Water Resources. Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, who had uncovered the coal-block allocation scam, will preside the Committee on Coal and Steel.