BJP leader to head panel on parl library

S S Ahluwalia appointed head of one-man committee

In a surprise development, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has appointed BJP leader and former MP S S Ahluwalia the head of a committee on digitisation of the Parliament library.

This is perhaps the first time that a BJP leader has been appointed to head a committee, other than the Parliament committees, at least in the current Lok Sabha. Confirming his appointment as the one-man committee “to suggest ways to digitisation of the Parliament library,”  Ahluwalia told Deccan Herald that he was appointed by the Speaker, mainly because he has been the vice-president of the International Parliamentary Association of Information Technology (IPAIT) since 2002. The IPAIT is a worldwide inter-parliamentary institution aiming to promote multilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication technologies.

Ahluwalia said he was assigned to prepare a report on digitisation of the library and submit it to the Speaker. “ I have been involved in similar projects in IPAIT and probably that was why I was appointed,” said the MP, who lost the last Rajya Sabha election from Jharkhand.

“My appointment is on the lines of the head of the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training and there is no time-frame to submit the report,” Ahluwalia said. While former Congress MP Rashid Alvi is the present chairman of the BPST, Renuka Choudhary and Margaret Alva were his predecessors. It was alleged that the appointments were made to help them retain the official bungalows which they are entitled as the head of BPST.

Ahluwalia, however, dismissed suggestions that the Congress was trying to lure him into the party with this post. “I completely deny this. This post has nothing to do with politics. As for bungalows and other perks, I don’t want to comment on small things. For me, the point is how well you are going to deliver the task on hand.”

The Lok Sabha has this to say about the library: “Parliament Library is the largest library in Delhi and second largest library in India after the National Library. The bibliographic details about the publications received after 1992 are available for online search. The library functions such as acquisition, processing and issue and return of books have been computerised. On-line access of library catalogue provides information about the author, title, subject and keywords-based searches.”

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