Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

Shashi Tharoor: BJP using media as weapon of mass distraction, shifting eyeballs from Covid, China, economy

Writer, diplomat and MP, Tharoor was among the 23 leaders who recently sought changes within the Congress. Earlier this month, as head of the Standing Committee on IT, he summoned Facebook, which resulted in a clash with a BJP member on the panel.

Shashi Tharoor: BJP using media as weapon of mass distraction, shifting eyeballs from Covid, China, economyShashi Tharoor. (Illustration: Suvajit Dey)

The Congress leader says abolition of Question Hour is a “serious irritation”, calls “politicisation” of workings of House panels “unfortunate”, says social media requires self-regulation but via “consultative process”, and asserts Cong is the only viable alternative to BJP. The session was moderated by Deputy Associate Editor Manoj C G.

MANOJ C G: Parliament is in session in the middle of a pandemic. What has the experience been like?

All the MPs are facing a tremendous number of challenges. First, we have the very artificial atmosphere created by the fact that we are meeting for a limited number of hours for a limited agenda, and with distances amongst us which we are simply not used to. That creates a certain artificiality of atmosphere. Secondly, the abolition of Question Hour, with which the day would normally begin, has been a serious irritation and setback because that was the only real occasion where you could illicit unscripted responses from ministers. Essentially, the written replies, which they give us even now, are largely written by bureaucrats and are usually drafted in a language that gives as minimal information as possible… In Question Hour, you could ask targeted follow-ups, especially if the initial answer is evasive, and very often it was a very good way of putting the government on the spot, highlighting the whole question of Parliamentary accountability, which is the hallmark of the system that we have… So that has been a setback.

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