Shashi Tharoor refuses to join external affairs panel

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has declined to be a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, citing his engagement as chairman of the Standing Committee on Information and Technology.

Mr. Tharoor had headed the external affairs panel in the last Lok Sabha. This time, the BJP has decided to keep the chair of the panel for itself.

In a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Mr. Tharoor, while thanking him for appointing him as a member of the panel, said he would not be able to do justice to the work as member of the committee since his hands were full as head of the committee on information and technology.

Earlier, when the committees were notified, Mr. Tharoor had made his displeasure public on losing the chairmanship of the external affairs panel. “It’s official: government has decided to end the tradition of the leading Opposition party chairing the External Affairs Committee. Apparently a BJP MP will now hold the BJP government accountable instead. One more blow to our soft power, image&international reputation as a mature democracy,” he had tweeted.

Informally, sources said, Mr. Tharoor had conveyed to the Speaker that he would not like to be a member of a committee that he once headed.

The Speaker has included the Thiruvananthapuram MP in a parliamentary delegation to the 141st assembly of Inter-Parliamentary Union to be held in Belgrade.


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