Several questions could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha Monday as the ministers concerned were not present to address them. In some cases, the MPs who had raised the questions were not present either.
While several ministers including Thawar Chand Gehlot (Social Justice and Empowerment), Prakash Javadekar (HRD), J P Nadda (Health) and Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law) were present in the starting minutes of question hour, there came a time towards the end when it was just Nirmala Sitharaman (Commerce) and Sanjeev Balyan (Water Resources) who were present in the House. Neither of them is part of the Union cabinet.
When Congress members flagged the fact that no cabinet minister was present in the House, chairman Hamid Ansari said: “I can see.” When Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, “This is the shape of the things to come,” chairman Ansari said, “This is not a happy state of affairs.” And Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “This is an example of ‘maximum ministers, minimum governance’.”
Earlier, there were some noisy scenes when Congress leader Digvijaya Singh demanded to know the status of his substantive motion against Goa Governor Mridula Sinha. Deputy chairman P J Kurien said the matter was under consideration of the chairman but Singh and several other Opposition leaders pointed out that time is of the essence and there was an understanding last week that the matter would be taken up on Monday. However, both the chair and the government said that there had been no such commitment and the matter would be taken up in due course.
During his zero hour submission, Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa suggested creation of a volunteers’ force comprising youth from villages along the international border in Punjab to provide a second line of defence to check terror activities. Newly elected Trinamool MP Manish Gupta took oath in Bengali.