Facebook row: Shashi Tharoor, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey seek breach of privilege proceedings against each other

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NEW DELHI: Congress leader Shashi

Tharoor

and BJP MP

Nishikant Dubey

have sought breach of privilege proceedings against each other after a spat on social media over Tharoor’s remarks on taking up the Facebook’s hate rules issue in the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology.

Tharoor is the chairman of the panel while Dubey is a member.

In his letter to Lok Sabha Speaker

Om Birla

, Tharoor alleged that the BJP MP made “disparaging remarks” on social media over his decision to summon a panel meeting to discuss the alleged “misconduct” of Facebook.

He also took strong objection to Dubey’s remarks on Twitter that “the Chairman of Standing Committee does not have the authority to do anything without discussion of the agenda with its members”.

Hitting back, Dubey, in his petition to the Speaker, stuck to his stand that Tharoor has no powers to summon any entity or organisation before the panel without consulting its members.

He said the agenda of any sitting of the Parliamentary Committee is decided after consultation with all the members of the parliamentary committee.

But, Tharoor never consulted the agenda of summoning Facebook and/or WhatsApp in any of the meetings of the parliamentary committee, he said.

“It is, therefore, a clear case, of Breach of Privilege by Dr. Shashi Tharoor in the capacity of Chairperson of the Departmentally Related Standing Committee on Information Technology,” he said in the notice.

He alleged Tharoor has committed a serious breach of privilege to use the parliamentary committee platform not only to serve his political agenda but also to tarnish BJP and “sensationalise a small incident by misusing his official powers”.

The war of words between the two leaders started after Tharoor said on Twitter that standing committee would like to hear from Facebook officials about its hate speech rules in the wake of a report in the Wall Street Journal which claimed that the social media giant refused to apply such rules to certain ruling party politicians in India.

Suggesting that Tharoor was using the committee’s platform for politics, Dubey alleged he decided to call Facebook officials to satisfy the ego of

Rahul Gandhi

who had alleged that BJP and RSS controlling the social media platform.

Anguished over the alleged “disparaging” remarks made by Dubey against his decision to call a meeting of the panel, Tharoor said it amounted to breach of privilege of his position as an MP and Chairman of the standing committee.

“The matter pertains to the disparaging remarks made by Dubey on a social media platform regarding my decision to summon a Committee meeting to discuss the alleged misconduct of Facebook and seek clarity on the measures that it intends to undertake to curb the spread of hate speech and fake news,” Tharoor said.

“Nishikant Dubey’s derogatory remarks have not only brought disrepute to my position as a Member of Parliament and Chairman but also to an institution that mirrors the will of the people of our country,” Tharoor alleged in the letter, a copy of which was also marked to Sunil Kumar Singh, chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Privileges, Lok Sabha.

Tharoor urged Birla to issue necessary directions to initiate proceedings against Dubey for “committing a breach of privilege on multiple accounts and contempt of the House”.

Meanwhile, tagging a tweet on a media report about the rules and functioning of committees, Dubey on Wednesday tweeted, “In the last 11 years as an MP, I have neither violated any rules nor would I let anyone violate or abuse th

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