Govt not running away from debate: Par Affairs Minister Joshi

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Amid criticism by several opposition leaders for dropping the Question Hour from the upcoming Parliament session, the government on Wednesday said it is not running away from any debate and that all opposition parties were told beforehand about the move with most of them agreeing to it.

The government is ready for unstarred questions and it has requested presiding officers of both the Houses to facilitate the same, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told PTI.

Unstarred questions are those to which written answers are given by ministers, while 'starred questions' are those to which answers are desired to be given orally on the floor of the House during the Question Hour.

"We are not running away from any debate and is ready to discuss any issue or topic which will be decided in the Business Advisory Committee," Joshi said.

Underlining that the monsoon session is being held in unprecedented circumstances in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joshi said officers from ministries would have to come to Parliament if the Question Hour is held and that can make the place crowded.

Therefore, for the safety of members, there will be no Question Hour during the monsoon session, the minister said.

He also said the government had approached all opposition parties before the notification was issued for the session and most of them were in agreement for not holding the Question Hour during the session.

There will be a Zero Hour of at least 30 minutes, he said.

Several opposition leaders, including from the Congress, Trinamool Congress and CPI, have criticised the decision of not having the Question Hour and have accused the government of trying to "murder the democracy" in the name of the COVID-19 pandemic and of reducing "Parliament to a notice board".

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