After winning 236 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, the INDIA bloc of opposition parties expects that it will have more chairs of department-related standing committees, than opposition parties did in the last House.

Congress MPs Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi during President Droupadi Murmu’s address to the joint sitting of the Parliament, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 27, 2024. (PTI)

The committees are expected to be announced during the upcoming monsoon session.

Two Opposition leaders on Wednesday told HT that the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha secretariats have written to parties, asking for nomination of respective party MPs in the 24 panels. “The Lok Sabha secretariat has written to me asking us for nomination of MPs in different panels,” Trinamool’s Lok Sabha lawmaker Sudip Bandopadhyay said. A senior official from Congress president and Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition (LoP) Mallikarjun Kharge’s office also confirmed that a similar request has been received from the Upper House secretariat.

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There are 16 department-related standing committees under the Lok Sabha and eight under the Rajya Sabha. To be sure, no final decision has been taken on the chairs, which would be decided by the Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

A senior Congress strategist said that the INDIA bloc is expecting at least three additional chairs of the standing committees. “The Congress should get one more panel. Samajwadi Party, which doesn’t lead any such panel, should get one. And the Trinamool Congress should also get one chairperson.” Apart from this, Lok Sabha’s LoP Rahul Gandhi is likely to head the Public Accounts Committee, the audit watchdog of Parliament and a few Opposition leaders might also get the charge of other panels.

Before the Lok Sabha election in May 2024, the Congress party led three standing panels: commerce (till Abhishek Singhvi lost his Rajya Sabha seat in April), environment and chemical & fertilizers. Trinamool, despite being the third largest party in Parliament didn’t get any chairman’s post. Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav had initially chaired the health panel but this reverted to the BJP after some time. DMK’s K Kanimozhi led the rural development panel.

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This time, both Samajwadi Party (41 MPs in Parliament across the two Houses) and the TMC (42 MPs in the two Houses) will be entitled to at least one chairman’s position. “But the final decision will be taken by Dhankhar or Birla,” said a senior non-Congress Opposition leader.

An Opposition functionary argued that “55% of the lawmakers are with the ruling side whereas 45% are in the Opposition. If the chairpersons’ posts are distributed in this ratio, the ruling side should get 13 chairpersons of the department-related standing committees, which oversee functioning of different ministries, and the others, 11.

Apart from the 24 department-related standing committees, Parliament has financial panels, ad-hoc panels and other parliamentary standing committees to handle various aspects of the functioning of the highest legislative body in the country. During the course of a session, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha also form select committees or joint parliamentary committees to review specific bills or important issues. JPCs have been formed on the stock market scam or to investigate pesticide contamination in soft drinks and beverages.

The secretariats, according to two leaders, have requested the parties to submit their nominations before the monsoon session starts on July 22.