Trinamool Congress MPs on Thursday walked out of a parliamentary standing committee meeting after their demand to discuss safegaurds provided for women sports persons by various sports federations in the light of the allegations made by protesting wrestlers was deemed to be "outside the meeting's agenda" by its chairman and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Vivek Thakur, sources said.
TMC MPs Sushmita Dev and Asit Kumar Mal staged the walkout after the party raised the issue of safety of women sports persons at the meeting of the standing committee on education, women, children, youth and sports, and asked if internal complaints committees were formed at different sports federations and if they were active, they said.
Congress MP Akhilesh Singh, three others from the BJP and M Thambidurai of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam were present at the meeting attended by secretary (sports) Sujata Chaturvedi; Sandeep Pradhan, director general, Sports Authority of India; Cdre (Retd) PK Garg, CEO, TOPS; RC Mishra, vice chancellor, National Sports University; Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala, among others.
Sources said the secretary, sports informed Dev that the government has no role in the functioning of sports federations and any interference by the dispensation in these federations will be against the spirit guiding sports administration globally.
Panel chairman Thakur is believed to have informed Dev that the issue was not on the agenda for the meeting.
"This is not part of the agenda for the meeting and the matter is anyway subjudice so the committee cannot discuss it. It is clarified that today's agenda is India's preparedness for next Olympics," the BJP MP is believed to have said in response to Dev's queries.
Upon this, the duo of Dev and Mal walked out.
While Congress' Singh supported Dev, he did not follow them out, sources said.
"When West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is on the streets, as a member of this standing committee on women and children, I felt compelled to walk out of the meeting because the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has failed to act. I could not have sat around as a mute spectator as the standing committee is a watchdog of public policy and not the 'pet dog' of the government," Dev said.
The TMC MP had on May 9 written to Thakur on the allegations of sexual harassment by women wrestlers and said the committee should take a review of the implementation of all statutory laws that applied to the sports federations and other bodies and the role of the sports ministry in this regard.
She also requested that a meeting of the committee be held with a specific agenda that ensures a thorough review of this issue.