NEW DELHI :
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is reaching out to members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and those from like-minded parties, two party leaders said, ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Lok Sabha standing committee on Information Technology (IT).
The party is trying to corner committee chairman Shashi Tharoor and other Congress members, after the panel summoned top Facebook executives following a Wall Street Journal report that said the social media firm retained content posted by BJP leaders that was internally flagged as hate speech.
“We are going to ask some tough questions to Shashi Tharoor; he will have to explain how he announced without consulting other members to invite officials of Facebook before the parliamentary committee. There are set rules and procedures that need to be followed. He is the chief of the standing committee and we will seek answers from him,” said one of the two BJP leaders cited above, who spoke under condition of anonymity.
With 16 out of the 30 committee members from BJP, the ruling party feels it holds the key to the success of any move to invite stakeholders for discussion before the committee. Given that the Congress has just four members, Trinamool Congress (TMC) two, and one each from the Left parties, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) and Shiv Sena, Tharoor will need to plan his moves well when the panel meets on 1-2 September.
BJP member of Parliament and panel member Nishikant Dubey on Wednesday wrote a letter to Tharoor urging him to cancel the discussion on suspension of internet services in various states and Union territories, including Jammu and Kashmir, as the matter was sub judice. The issue was scheduled to be taken up at the panel meet on 1 September. His letter came in the backdrop of Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla asking chairmen of all parliamentary committees to ensure that rules are strictly adhered while holding committee meetings.
BJP members are also in the process of reaching out to YSR Congress Party and Telangana Rashtra Samithi to add pressure on Tharoor.
“It seems that only BJP is opposed to raising the Facebook issue that too limited to one or two of its members. We feel there are enough safeguards and the chairman is well within his rights in doing what he has done. Also, remember that the summons to call for representation is not sent by the chairman but by the secretary general,” a senior Opposition member from the committee said, requesting anonymity.