Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar has given place to eight of his personal staff members in 12 parliamentary standing committees and eight departmental standing committees. Two of these staffers have been told their relatives and close ones. The opposition has criticized this decision as unprecedented.
New Delhi: Opposition leaders have termed Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar’s decision to place eight of his personal staff members in 12 parliamentary standing committees and eight departmental standing committees as ‘institutional destruction’ and ‘illegal’.
According to The Indian Express, the members added to the committees from the Vice President’s staff include Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Rajesh N. Naik, Private Secretary (PS) Sujit Kumar, Additional Private Secretary Sanjay Verma and OSD Abhyudaya Singh Shekhawat. Among the personnel appointed from the office of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha are his OSDs Akhil Chowdhary, Dinesh D., Kaustubh Sudhakar Bhalekar and PS Aditi Chowdhary.
In 2021, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra claimed in a tweet that family members/relatives of Dhankhar, who was then holding the post of West Bengal Governor, were appointed as OSDs at the Bengal Raj Bhavan.
And Uncleji- while you’re at it- take the extended family you’ve settled in at WB Raj Bhavan with you. pic.twitter.com/a8KpNjynx9
Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) June 6, 2021
If Moitra’s claims are true, then those appointed in the standing committees are related to Abhyudaya Singh Shekhawat and Akhil Chowdhary Dhankhar.
In Tuesday’s order of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, it has been said that these officers have been added with immediate effect. It may be noted that the Vice President of India is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
A Rajya Sabha MP told the newspaper that such a move was “unprecedented”. The same word was also used by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Digvijay Singh in a tweet.
Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar appoints his staff on Standing Committees
Yes it is unprecedented. But the explanation given is also quite inappropriate. Doesn’t it reflect Chairman Rajya Sabha’s lack of confidence in the existing staff of RS Secretariat? https://t.co/01KUJvVJpE
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) Mar 9, 2023
Singh wrote, ‘Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar has appointed his employees in the standing committees. Yes, this is unprecedented. But the explanation given for this is also unfair. Does this not show the distrust of the Rajya Sabha Chairman towards the existing staff of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat?’
According to The Hindu, a senior official of the Chairman’s Secretariat said that this step has been taken for several reasons. He said, ‘Recently on the instructions of the Chairman, researchers working with ‘Library, Research, Documentation and Information Service (LARRDIS)’ were also added to these committees and their contribution was highly appreciated. The staff members will also assist in the functioning of the committees and keep the Chairman informed about the functioning and performance of the various committees.
However, the Leader of the Opposition does not agree with this argument. Congress leader and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh, who heads the standing committee on science and technology, said the order was “unprecedented and incomprehensible”. He added, “As the chairman of one of the standing committees, I do not see any advantage to be gained from this unilateral move. These are the Standing Committees of the Rajya Sabha and not the Standing Committees of the Chairman.
Ramesh is also the Chief Whip of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha. He told The Indian Express that he thought of taking up the issue with Dhankhar as all committees in the Rajya Sabha “already have competent staff brought in from the secretariat”.
VP is Chairperson of Council of States Ex-officio.He is not a Member of House like Vice Chairperson or Panel of Vice Chairpersons. How can he appoint personal staff on Parliamentary Standing Committees? Would this not tantamount to institutional subversion? https://t.co/CtEBBCds58
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) Mar 8, 2023
Congress Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari also criticized the move, writing on Twitter, “The Vice President of India is the ex-officio President of the Council of States and not a member of the House like the Deputy President or his panel.” How can he appoint his personal staff to the Standing Committees of Parliament? Wouldn’t this be tantamount to institutional demolition?’
A retired secretary general told The Hindu on condition of anonymity that each committee was looked after by a joint secretary-level officer, who would inform the secretary general about any developments, whenever necessary. The Secretary General used to give information to the Chairman on his behalf.
He said that the important thing is that the chairman of the committee used to be accountable to the Parliament and responsible for the functioning of the committee. He added, “The question here is that when there is already an existing system, which works smoothly, then what is the need to bring in additional staff.”
Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan has also criticized the move.
“8 members of personal staff of VP & RS Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar have been appointed to 20 committees that come under the ambit of the RS as per an order released by the RS secretariat on Tuesday, raising eyebrows”.
Totally illegal & abuse of power by VP https://t.co/fiAO8lHOqd
Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) Mar 8, 2023
He called it an ‘illegal’ and said it was an example of ‘abuse of power by the Vice President’.
read this also…
Categories: Politics Special