After winning 236 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the Indian bloc of opposition parties is expected to have more seats in departmental standing committees, as opposition parties did in the previous House.

Congress MPs Mallikarjan Kharge and Rahul Gandhi address President Draupadi Murmu’s joint session of Parliament in New Delhi, Thursday, June 27, 2024. (PTI)

It is expected that the committees will be announced during the upcoming monsoon session.

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Two opposition leaders told HT on Wednesday that the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats have written to parties asking them to nominate MPs from their respective parties in 24 panels. Trinamool Lok Sabha legislator Sudeep Bandopadhyay said, “The Lok Sabha secretariat has written to me requesting us to nominate MPs to various panels.” A senior official in the office of Congress President and Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition (LOP) Mallikarjan Kharge also confirmed that a similar request has been received from the Upper House Secretariat.

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There are 16 departmental 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 will be decided by Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

A senior Congress strategist said India is expecting at least three additional seats in the bloc’s standing committees. Congress should get another panel. The Samajwadi Party, which does not lead any such panel, should meet. And Trinamool Congress should also get a chairperson. Apart from this, Lok Sabha LOP Rahul Gandhi may get charge of Public Accounts Committee, Parliament’s audit watchdog and some opposition leaders may also get charge of other panels.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in May 2024, the Congress party led three standing panels: Commerce (until Abhishek Singhvi lost his Rajya Sabha seat in April), Environment and Chemicals and Fertilizers. Despite being the third largest party in Parliament, the Trinamool did not get any post of chairman. Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav initially headed the health panel, but it returned to the BJP after some time. DMK’s Kanimozhi led the rural development panel.

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

An opposition activist argued that “55% of the legislators are with the ruling party while 45% are with the opposition. If the chairperson posts are distributed proportionally, the ruling party should get 13 chairpersons of department-related standing committees.” which supervise the functioning of various ministries, and others 11.

Apart from 24 departmental standing committees, Parliament has Finance Panels, Ad Hoc Panels and other Parliamentary Standing Committees which handle various aspects of the work of the country’s highest legislative body. During the session, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha also constitute select committees or joint parliamentary committees to examine specific bills or important issues. JPCs are formed to investigate stock market scams or pesticide contamination in soft drinks and beverages.

According to the two leaders, the secretariat has requested the parties to submit their nomination papers before the start of the monsoon session on July 22.

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