No question hour in Parliament’s monsoon session; Opposition slams move

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The upcoming monsoon , beginning September 14, will not have Question Hour and a shorter duration for members to raise matters of public importance, prompting the opposition to accuse the Modi government of “murdering democracy”....

The fortnight-long will be marked by several firsts such as sittings of both the Houses on Saturdays and Sundays, staggered timings for the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, instead of simultaneous proceedings and restrictions on movement in Parliament premises.

“There will be Hour and private members’ business during the session,” a Rajya Sabha notification said.

"In view of the request of the Government owing to prevailing extraordinary situation due to Covid-19, the Speaker has directed that no day be fixed for transaction of Private Members' Business during the Session," the Lok Sabha Secretariat said in a notification.

On the first day of the monsoon session, the Lok Sabha will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 and the Rajya Sabha from 3:00 to 7:00 For the rest of the duration of the session till October 1, the Rajya Sabha would meet in the mornings and Lok Sabha in the afternoon.

The two-hour break between will be used to disinfect chambers of both the Houses.

The decision to scrap the Question Hour and private members’ business has not gone down well with the Opposition.

“Opposition MPs lose the right to question the government. A first since 1950? Parliament overall working hours remain the same so why cancel Question Hour? Pandemic excuse to murder democracy,” Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’brien said.

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had already written a letter to Speaker Om Birla protesting the decision to scrap the Question Hour.

“We request the government to reconsider the decision,” Chowdhury said adding that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had sounded him out beforehand about the changes citing the Covid-19 pandemic.

“BJP government’s decision to suspend the Question Hour for the entire session conveys just one message – even elected representatives have no right to question the government,” DMK member Kanimozhi said.

In the past, he said, the Question Hour was dispensed with during sessions of Parliament called for special purposes but the upcoming Monsoon Session is a "regular session".

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