A war of words broke out between MPs of the BJP and opposition, including chairman Shashi Tharoor, in Wednesday's meeting of the Standing Committee for Information and Technology. The argument between Tharoor and Karti Chidambaram on one side and Nishikant Dubey and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on the other continued for over an hour before the meeting convened.
Another flashpoint occurred between Dubey and Tharoor after the latter allowed for a discussion on the snapping of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir. While discussion was listed for unavailability of 4G internet in various parts of the country, including Jammu and Kashmir, BJP MPS opposed questions being asked on it.
Dubey has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla citing his earlier communications in August in which he had alleged that Tharoor was using his position as chairman to pursue parochial political purposes.
"No Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee has now been interacting with the social media on any issue/matter which is under the consideration of Parliamentary Committee. However, the only exception to this rule-imbibed restraint is Dr Shashi Tharoor, who is, even today, not willing to shrug off his self-proclaimed tendency and the image of 'Hair Twitching arrogant Tsar' and still continuing to embarrass the democratic institutions, i.e., the sacrosanct and purely bipartisan Parliamentary Committees by his uncontrolled behaviour and a zest to malign each and every organs of the Government," said Dubey's letter.
Dubey also criticised Tharoor's decision to summon Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, who on Tuesday had refused to attend the meeting citing national security. He also urged the Speaker to remove Tharoor from the position of committee chairman.
Sources said members of the committee in the meeting asked the government if there was any data of the number of times 4G internet has been snapped across the country, with the latter saying it has no such data.
No questions on J&K were purportedly allowed to be asked, citing national security, top sources told CNN-News18. For all questions related to 4G internet block in the country, the officials said a written response would be submitted before the committee.
Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govind Mohan, and other senior officials from Department of Telecom attended the meeting.