New Delhi, Sep 2 : In what can be seen as a half-win for the Opposition, the Modi government has said it will allow “unstarred questions” which will be replied to in written responses, after the Opposition cried foul over the idea of dropping question hour altogether in the forthcoming mini parliament session. However, government sources called the uproar a “masterclass in hypocrisy”, while taking a dig at the Opposition.
“The uproar over Question Hour suspension is nothing but a masterclass in hypocrisy by members of the opposition. It is amusing to see Opposition MPs who don’t have the power to question even their Party President create a fake narrative on this issue,” said a top government source.
The idea of dropping the Question Hour in the mini parliament session, for the first time since the nationwide lockdown in March, has the Opposition up in arms accusing the Centre of stifling its voice.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said, “Government has spoken in advance to all opposition parties for not holding Question Hour and everyone, except West Bengal MP Derek O’Brien, has agreed to the arrangement. Also, looking at Covid risks, everyone has agreed on cutting short Zero Hour to half an hour.” He added that the government is ready to reply to unstarred questions. “We are not running away from debates and will discuss all issues, as decided by the Business Advisory Committee.” he remarked.
The curtailed sessions were forced given the session timings have been cut down to roughly four hours a day to ensure that social distancing is maintained inside the Parliament amid the raging pandemic.
But Derek O’Brien seems unconvinced. He tweeted, “More instances of sessions called for SPECIAL PURPOSES when no QH was held: 41st (during Chinese aggression), 201st & 216th (only President’s Address).Coming up is a REGULAR monsoon session of two weeks. So why the exception?”
But government sources hit out at the Opposition saying, “State assemblies have functioned in various states after March 2020 and there has been no question hour in the assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh & Maharashtra. BJP is in opposition in most of these states and it did not raise a hue and cry there.”
Questioning the Opposition parties, government sources further claimed that the extent of disturbance of Question Hour is visible from the fact that in the last eight sessions, of the 162 hours allotted for Question Hour, only 59 were used and more than 102 hours lost due to disruptions and adjournment.
“For the Parties creating an uproar, can they tell me how many questions have their top leaders asked in the question hour?” asked a top source in the government.