NEW DELHI: The ongoing stand-off in Parliament cast its shadow on the Standing Committee on Information and Technology on Wednesday, with BJP MPs executing a well scripted strategy to deny any opportunity to the Shashi Tharoor-led panel to take up discussion on the raging Pegasus issue. They also shielded absentee officials from being hauled up for contempt by ensuring the meeting could not be convened because of lack of quorum.
While the meeting’s details are stated to be confidential, two panel members, BJP’s Nishikant Dubey and Trinamool’s Mahua Maitra, fought it out on Twitter over verbal abuse. Dubey accused Moitra of abusing him at the venue of the meeting. “By hurling the Bihari gunda (goon) abuse, Mahua Moitra has abused the people from North India and the Hindi speaking belt,” tweeted Dubey. Moitra wondered what the fuss about was all about, when the meeting didn’t take place due to lack of quorum.
According to Parliament staffers, perhaps for the first time in the history of Standing Committee meetings, none of the summoned officials from the ministries of home and electronics and information technology turned up for the meeting. If an official is busy, he/she is represented by the next in hierarchy.
When contacted, home ministry officers refused to reveal the reason behind their no-show. “Had the meeting taken place, the panel could have issued contempt notices to the absentee officials. This was thwarted by BJP MPs, who refused to sign the attendance register, which is necessary to establish quorum.
They also ensured that other members were not called in from the Opposition to get around the quorum issue by staying put at the venue until a frustrated Tharoor called it off,” sources said. Trinamool MPs allegedly shouted at the BJP, saying “Gundaraj hai kya, dadagiri hai kya?”
BJP MPs, sources said, apprehended the panel could have issued directions on Pegasus, giving more teeth to the Opposition to go after the ruling NDA dispensation, hence the stalling.