New Delhi, Sep 2 (PTI) Criticising the decision of not having the Question Hour in Parliament's monsoon session, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said questioning the government is the 'oxygen' of parliamentary democracy and alleged that the Modi dispensation seeks to reduce Parliament to a 'notice board'.
There will be no Question Hour and private members' bills will not be taken up in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, while the Zero Hour will be restricted, notifications issued by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats said.
Reacting to the development, Tharoor said, 'I said four months ago that strongmen leaders would use the excuse of the pandemic to stifle democracy and dissent.' 'The notification for the delayed Parliament session blandly announces there will be no Question Hour. How can this be justified in the name of keeping us safe?' the former Union minister and the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on information technology said.
Questioning the government is the oxygen of parliamentary democracy, he asserted.
'This Government seeks to reduce Parliament to a notice-board and uses its crushing majority as a rubber-stamp for whatever it wants to pass,' Tharoor alleged.
The one mechanism to promote accountability has now been done away with, he rued.
Tagging Tharoor's tweet, another senior Congress leader Mukul Wasnik said on Twitter, 'You may have misunderstood the government. This is not about your safety. It is about the government's safety.' There will also be no breaks during the session, which will be held from September 14 to October 1, and both Houses will function on Saturdays and Sundays as well, the notifications said.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the session will be held in two shifts -- 9 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 7 PM.
Last week, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote to Speaker Om Birla urging him not to curtail the Question Hour and the Zero Hour.
Chowdhury had said it will prevent lawmakers from raising issues of national importance.
Meanwhile, according to sources, the government has reached out to the Opposition, sharing its compulsions to not hold the Question Hour in wake of the pandemic. PTI ASK SMN SMN