Shashi Tharoor Anil Antony BBC documentary series on Narendra Modi Gujarat riots
Shashi Tharoor said people of the country have the freedom to watch or not watch the BBC documentary series on the 2002 riots (file photo)

BJP, Congress spar over 'national importance' after Tharoor-Dubey row

The BJP and Congress are at loggerheads over discussing issues of “national importance” in the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has written to head of the committee Shashi Tharoor, a Congress MP, to “immediately revoke” the September 1 sitting called for discussing suspension of 4G internet services in Jammu & Kashmir and others issues of “national importance”.

Dubey, also a member of the parliamentary committee, cited Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s letter which discourages heads of House Parliamentary Committees from discussing matters relating to cases pending in courts.

“Since this issue is pending before the Supreme Court of India, any further deliberations on this would… be a violation of relevant rules/directions as well as disregarding recently issued advisory of the Speaker,” Dubey wrote in his letter to Tharoor.

Dubey had written to the Lok Sabha speaker last week demanding the removal of Tharoor from his post as the head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology.

The BJP MP expressed concern that affairs of the committee were “being decided in front of media and camera glare/bite”. He said Tharoor’s conduct “…gives an impression that the platform of the Committee on Information Technology is being used for gaining political mileage and raising baseless controversies, one after the other.”

Dubey and Tharoor came face to face last week when Tharoor indicated the Standing Committee would like to hear from Facebook on allegations it did not apply hate speech rules to posts made by members of the ruling BJP despite the issue being “flagged internally”.

Dubey responded by saying a parliamentary panel “should not be made a political platform by members to satisfy the ego of their respective party leaders”.

Tharoor’s decision to hear from Facebook was backed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, who is also a member of the committee.

Reacting to the controversy, Facebook said that it enforces policies on hate speech “without regard to political position or party affiliation”. Facebook representatives have been summoned to reply on September 2.

High-speed mobile internet services have been suspended in Jammu and Kashmir for over a year – they were stopped as part of security measures to quell backlash following the Centre’s decision to withdraw special privileges under Article 370.

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