Question Hour collapses in LS for 1st time in 2 decades

Lok Sabha`s Question Hour collapsed for the first time in two decades, prompting Speaker to express concern.

Updated: Nov 30, 2009, 20:42 PM IST

New Delhi: Lok Sabha`s Question Hour
collapsed on Monday for the first time in two decades, prompting
Speaker Meira Kumar to express concern while an exasperated
government wondered the need for it.

The Lower House created a record of sorts with as many as
34 members, who had listed questions, remaining absent,
forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House within 30 minutes of
its assembling.

Kumar continued with the Question Hour despite the Left
and the SP members storming the well of the House to protest
the Centre`s decision to send a team to West Bengal, dubbing
it as "murder of democracy".

Question Hour is the "essence of democracy", observed
the Speaker outside the House while a concerned Parliamentary
Affairs minister P K Bansal questioned the very continuance
of the Question Hour if such was the attitude of members.

"Whether we at all need Question Hour when we (Government)
spends so much time, money and energy on it," wondered Bansal.

Last time, Lok Sabha`s Question Hour had collapsed in
1991. Similar developments had happened twice in 1983, five
times in 1985, three times in 1988 and twice in 1989,
Parliament sources said.

They said it requires Rs 14 lakh to run the Lok Sabha for
an hour and the Government has to prepare hard to face the

‘Govt will revise calamity relief norms’

The government on Monday said it will
revise the norms for providing calamity relief to states after
receiving the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission
which is expected to submit its report by year-end.

"Once the 13th Finance Commission report comes, we will
revise CRF (Calamity Relief Fund) norms", Home Minister P
Chidambaram said and assured the Lok Sabha that the Centre
will not discriminate among states while providing relief.

"The Central government is not going to discriminate... I
want the state governments to focus on rehabilitation and
reconstruction. Don`t worry about money, please go and do the
work on the ground. We will find the money," he said, replying
to a discussion on natural calamities.

State governments can withdraw money from the National
Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) after exhausting 70 per cent
of the money in the CRF, he said while responding to
allegations of members that the Centre was not providing
adequate funds.

The Government had recently given three months` extension
to the 13th Finance Commission up to January 31, 2010, but
requested it to submit the recommendations by December-end.

The Centre had appointed the Commission under the
chairmanship of Vijay Kelkar in November 2007 to suggest a
formula for sharing tax proceeds between the Centre and

Absenteeism condemned

Taking a unanimous stand on the
issue of absence of MPs during the Question Hour, most
Parliamentarians on Monday termed it as "unfortunate and shameful"

Janata Dal(U) MP Hukum Naryan Yadav, said it is very
unfortunate for Parliamentary democracy as it has never
happened before. There were 20 questions and only three MPs
were present."

Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the Lok Sabha during the
Question Hour as majority of the MPs who had raised questions,
were absent in the House.

Union Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep
Jain said "It is a colossal waste of public money as MPs,
after listing questions, are not reaching the House on time."

Madhu Yakshi, Andhra Cong MP, who was absent during
the Question Hour, apologised saying "I am sorry for the
absence, it was not my intention to absent from the House.
Though I was in the Parliament building, I could not reach the
House on time."

Promising to be careful in future, Yakshi said, "It is
our duty to be present in the House and it is shameful to be

BJP MP Radha Mohan Singh, who was also absent, however
blamed railways for not been able to come to the House in

"I was returning to Delhi by train as I had gone to my
constituency on Saturday. But the train reached three hours
late so I missed the Question Hour, Singh said, adding, it was