The government faced embarrassment in Rajya Sabha Monday when a minister, whose question was listed, was not present during question hour. Chairman Hamid Ansari called it an extraordinary and most unusual situation and asked the government to respond. While the minister walked in minutes later and apologised for his late arrival, the Opposition created a ruckus.
The question related to the environment ministry. With Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave absent, his predecessor Prakash Javadekar was to respond. Javadekar too was absent, as was the parliamentary affairs minister. “This is the second time it is happening. The minister concerned is not present,” Jairam Ramesh (Congress) said. “There is no minister. I am afraid the House has to take note of this. The minister must be present in question hour,” Ansari said.
Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, who was in the House, apologised and offered to answer the question but Ansari told her, “You cannot answer. Thank you.”
The chairman added, “This is a most unusual situation. It is the responsibility of the concerned ministers to be present when their questions are taken up. This is an extraordinary situation and I am sure the minister of parliamentary affairs will look into this and respond.”
Amid the commotion, Javadekar walked in. Ansari told him that he was late. “Honorable minister, a most unusual situation has arisen. I have not witnessed it for 10 years and probably earlier also. The accepted practice of the House is that when a question is listed, the minister has to be present. I am afraid you were late.”
Javadekar, now HRD minister, said he was introducing two bills in Lok Sabha. “I have rushed here to answer the question. I am answering for somebody else,” he said.
“First of all, I am apologetic because I came late. I had to present a bill related to my ministry in the other house,” Javadekar said while answering the question finally on behalf of Dave.