Government leaving our queries hanging: MPs

Members flag ‘unsatisfactory’ answers by Centre to questions raised in Parliament.

Sandeep PhukanSobhana K. Nair
December 19, 2021 23:13 IST

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A view of the Parliament House building, in New Delhi.

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, on December 7, asked the Union Government to give in writing whether it would pay compensation to the families of the farmers who died during the year-long agitation.

Another part of the same question also asked if the Government was considering giving legal guarantee to the minimum support price (MSP), something that the farmers have been demanding.

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But the reply skipped the first two parts and answered the impact of COVID-19 on the farming community.

Two questions swallowed up

“The first two questions were swallowed up and the answer to the third is that agriculture is functioning smoothly during the pandemic. What kind of a joke is this!” asked Mr. Gandhi on twitter and tagged the Government’s written reply to his unstarred question.

Several Opposition members have raised a range of complaints: from “unsatisfactory” answers to disallowing questions on the border face-off with China.

Questions on the border row were posed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in the Rajya Sabha and by Congress members Manish Tewari and Karti Chidamabaram in the Lok Sabha.

But the face-off has been a “no-go area” and questions were disallowed.

DMK leader and Lok Sabha MP K. Kanimozhi pointed out that the Law Ministry’s response to her question on the status of the Women’s Reservation Bill was “identical” on three different occasions — March 17, 2017, July 28 and December 3 this year.

“Gender justice is an important commitment of the Government. The issue involved needs careful consideration on the basis of the consensus among all political parties before a Bill for amendment in the Constitution is brought before Parliament,” the Ministry responded.

“The Government is blindly copy, cut pasting the answers. The Ministers are taking the entire exercise very lightly,” Ms. Kanimozhi said.

Congress’s Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi told The Hindu , “In the Lok Sabha over the past few days the Opposition parties have been noting with concern that during the Question Hour, largely the answers from the Government have been unsatisfactory.”

A mockery of Question Hour

“They are full of rhetoric and read more like a paean to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. No substantive details are given. They make a mockery of the Question Hour,” Mr. Gogoi said.

A senior Lok Sabha Secretariat official told The Hindu that the issue has been flagged by Speaker Om Birla a couple of times during the Question Hour, especially when Ministers replied to supplementary questions posed by members.

“This session itself, the Honorable Speaker directed Minister of State (MoS) for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrashekhar and MoS Niranjyoti to answer specific queries raised by the members,” said the official cited above.

“At times, even Ministers have pointed out issues during Question Hour. Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Shekhawat requested the Chair to direct the question branch properly vet the questions as one question effectively meant that the Minister had to explain the functioning of his entire Ministry,” he said.

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