Communist Party of India’s (CPI) Rajya Sabha member Binoy Viswam has writen to the Upper House’s chairman, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, over dropping of the question hour by the Secretariat.
“Given that the duration of time of Parliamentary sittings is the same as it has always been, suspension of Question hour and Private Members business is unjust and must be reinstated immediately,” Viswam has said in his letter.
“Question Hour and Zero Hour are integral to the democratic functioning of Parliament and have never been done away with in the history of independent India. By introducing these changes, the government has effectively ensured that its accountability to Parliament and to the people is done away with,” he further said.
In a notification issued on Tuesday, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat said that there will be no question hour and private members’ business during the monsoon session of Parliament in the wake of ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Those who attend the session would be required to follow the necessary coronavirus protocols, including getting tested for Covid-19 within 72 hours, it further said.
The monsoon session of Parliament is scheduled to begin from September 14 and conclude on October 1.
On its part, the government has reached out to the Opposition, explaining why it will be difficult to schedule the Question Hour in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, people familiar with the development said.
From the government, defence minister Rajnath Singh has called up several Opposition leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress and Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress.
Chowdhury confirmed that Singh called him and informed him that it will not be possible to schedule the Question Hour because it would require the presence of a large number of officials in Parliament to brief ministers. Singh assured him that the government will try to accommodate the opposition’s demand for the Zero Hour to continue so that members can raise urgent matters .