New Delhi [India], September 14 (ANI): Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday suggested that MPs could have worked for five hours every day instead of four so that question hour could be taken up in monsoon session with the government stating that the session was being held in extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19 which requires social distancing and keeping the movement of government officials within Parliament to the bare minimum.
Azad made the remarks in Rajya Sabha after the motion moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi which said that starred question and private member business may not be brought before the House for the transaction during the session.
"In a democracy, the government is answerable to people of India through Parliament and the Parliament comprises members of Parliament representing different states, political parties, and regions of this country. People of the country have no access or means to ask the question to the minister inside the Parliament. So, their representatives are the members of the Parliament. These MPs ask questions on behalf of people of India," Azad said.
He said people of India have been deprived of question hour. "I submit it would have been in the interest of the nation and the House had the question hour been there. We could have worked for five hours as one hour could have been the question hour. I can't support the motion moved by the government," he said.
Azad's comments came after TMC MP Derek O'Brien moved an amendment to the government's motion.
"My amendment rejects the government's contention to cancel question hour. Question hour is heart of parliamentary democracy. It is one hour every day where Opposition gets a chance to question the ministers. We have lost 18 hours of Question Hour. There is no other place available for us to question the ministers and ask two supplementary questions. It has never happened before," he said.
The opposition amendment was rejected by voice vote.
Earlier, Joshi moved the motion. "I move a motion that keeping in view of the current session is being held in extraordinary circumstances prevailing due to COVID-19 pandemic requiring maintaining of social distancing and keeping the movement of government officials and others within Parliament to the bare minimum, this House resolves that starred question and private member business may not be brought before the House for the transaction during the session," he said.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said that like members he too was keen to have question hour.
"I, from the chair, was very keen to have question hour, zero hour and also all other business. The problem is we are meeting at an extraordinary time. The Question Hour box would be overcrowded. Going by other factors of hygiene and all, I said that the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs to talk to political parties regarding this. Zero hour will have opportunities. Special mentions are there," he said.
The Monsoon Session of Parliament commenced from today with several precautionary measures due to coronavirus pandemic. While Rajya Sabha will sit for four hours from 9 am from Tuesday, the Lok Sabha will have a sitting for four hours from 3 pm. The session is slated to conclude on October 1. (ANI)