Rajya Sabha on Monday adopted a motion to do away with the Question Hour and private members’ business during the Monsoon session, which is being held amid the coronavirus pandemic. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and TMC MP Derek O’Brien criticised the motion moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.
Moving the motion, Joshi said Rajya Sabha session is being held in extraordinary circumstances amid the COVID-19 pandemic and this House resolves that starred questions and private members’ business may not be brought before it for transaction during the session.
Opposing it, O’Brien said, “If this government really wanted to make a meaningful suggestion, they should have not struck at the heart of parliamentary democracy. I move this motion to appeal to the conscience of this government because this is our right as an opposition to ask questions.
Azad said in a democracy the government is answerable to the people of India through Parliament which comprises members representing different states, political parties and regions of this country. The people of this country have no means to ask questions to the ministers inside Parliament. Their representatives are the members of the Parliament.
“These members of the Parliament ask questions on behalf of people of India. The people of India are being deprived, Azad said. The Congress MP said that instead of four hours, the House could have worked for five hours daily and one hour could have been kept for the Question Hour.
I can’t support the motion, Azad said.
Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said that he was also keen to have the Question Hour and all other business, but the problem is in the extraordinary conditions in which the session is being conducted.
“Umpteen number of times it ( Question Hour has been suspended) has been done. I am not justifying it on that account, Naidu said .
He said that “special mentions, for attention, short discussions, etc" will be there and members of the House can “question the government, corner the government and even vote against the government". The motion was then passed with a voice vote.