After opposition parties criticised the government for its decision to do away with the Question Hour during the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Parliament, it will now be held for a duration of 30 minutes.
Only unstarred questions will be taken up in the half-hour long Question Hour, reported news agency ANI on Thursday.
Several Opposition leaders stepped up their attack on the government over the decision of not holding the Question Hour, alleging it was an attempt to "suppress" their voices. Congress again hit out at the decision with party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleging that it was an attempt to "throttle democracy" and "enchain" parliamentary system. Surjewala said the party will oppose the move both inside and outside Parliament.
Bahujan Samaj Party's Lok Sabha MP Kunwar Danish Ali in a tweet said, "Contempt if one tweets, treason if you ask questions on the streets. The country's biggest panchayat was left to raise questions of the people. There, the government has done away with the Question Hour. This is the scary picture of 'New India'."
All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal alleged that by cancelling the Question Hour from the ensuing Parliament Session, the government is trying to deprive "us from our democratic rights".
"We have the responsibility, as public representatives, to raise questions on behalf of the people of our country, on important issues," he said. "Pandemic is just an excuse, the real motive is to suppress our voices so that the Govt shouldn't have to answer questions on burning national issues," Ajmal tweeted.
Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also hit out at the decision of not having the Question Hour. "PM Modi has cancelled the Question Hour & Private Members' Business in the forthcoming Parliament session. Even at the peak of COVID-19 outbreak UK PM Boris Johnson faced weekly PM's Question Hour in the House of Commons," he tweeted.
The Nationalist Congress Party accused the BJP of using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to cancel the Question Hour to "hide its failures" on multiple fronts. The NCP also called for using other electronic means to let parliamentarians question the Centre.
"The BJP is using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to cancel the Question Hour in the monsoon session of Parliament to hide its failures on multiple fronts," NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase alleged. There will be no Question Hour, a curtailed Zero Hour and no private members' bills during the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats have decided, prompting opposition leaders to hit out at the government calling the move "undemocratic".
The government, however, has said it is not running away from any debate and provisions are being made for allowing written answers for the questions put up by MPs.