TMC refuses to chair RS panel on Papers Laid on Table

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O'Brien speaks in the Rajya Sabha. (PTI Photo)

The third-largest party in the Rajya Sabha, TMC, has refused to chair the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Papers Laid on the Table (COPLOT), saying the offer is like "crumbs of tokenism", sources said on Monday.

According to the sources, the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) was offered to chair the panel by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat as the party has not been given the chairmanship of any committee of the Upper House.

The panel on Transport, Tourism and Culture, which was headed by TMC's Derek O Brien previously and had strongly objected to the government's move to disinvest national carrier Air India, is now chaired by a BJP MP.

The TMC, despite being the third-largest party, has not been given any Rajya Sabha committee to head, whereas parties like the YSRCP and the TRS, which have fewer MPs, head important panels.

"Offers (like these) are crumbs of tokenism... The All India Trinamool Congress refuses to accept the chairmanship," the TMC said in a letter written to the Secretary, Rajya Sabha Secretariat.

In the letter, the Mamata Banerjee-led party, which is locked in a bitter battle with the BJP in its bastion West Bengal, further said many major established parliamentary conventions and precedents have not been followed in the last few months.

Out of the eight Rajya Sabha standing committees, the BJP and its allies earlier headed four, but now the ruling party is heading only three. Two are with the Congress and one committee each is with SP, YSRCP and TRS.

In place of BJP's allies, the SAD and the JD(U), fence-sitters YSRCP and TRS have been given the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Committees on Commerce and Industry, respectively.

Though both the YSRCP and the TRS are not part of the ruling BJP-led NDA alliance, they have at times on crucial bills, extended their support to the government in the Upper House, where it lacks a majority. 

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