Temple of democracy? Quiz master Derek O’Brien fumes after Speaker does away with Zero Question Hour

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TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien on Wednesday questioned the new move in Parliament, wherein MPs must submit questions for Question Hour 15 days in advance. O’Brien has called this move as a way to murder democracy, using the pandemic as an excuse.

“MPs required to submit Qs for Question Hour in Parliament 15 days in advance. Session starts 14 Sept. So Q Hour canceled? Oppn MPs lose the right to Q govt. A first since 1950? Parliament overall working hours remain same so why cancel Q Hour? Pandemic excuse to murder democracy (sic),” read Derek Obrien’s tweet.

The question hour is the first hour of a sitting session in Parliament, where MPs can raise questions on various issues. These questions are addressed to concerned ministers, which they are liable to answer. The answers are given orally or in writing, depending on the nature of the question. The answers, however, are usually orally answered.

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The question hour does not require MPs to submit questions days in advance, which is why O’Brien has brought up the issue. The TMC MP also calls this the first time since 1950 that this is being done.

Is it just during the COVID-19 pandemic? The fear is that this will become a trend now onwards, as the coronavirus pandemic is not likely to end anytime soon.

The new norms for the Parliament session, which begins on the 14th of September, include working in different shifts and special sitting arrangements to maintain social distancing.
Lok Sabha will function from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on the first day and from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm till October 1st. Rajya Sabha will sit from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm the first day, and 9:00 am to 1:00 pm the rest of the days. Weekends too, will be working days.

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Not just this, the zero hour too will be cut short to 30 minutes. Apart from TMC, Congress MPs also have questioned the new norms, mostly about the Question Hour.

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