Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Demonetisation Debate: 'No Hero' of the Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha


##Apparently, there was 'no hero' of the zero hour in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Or the opposition members gave it a miss deliberately?

Speaker #SumitraMahajan on November 30 made an unprecedented offer to the members urging them to end 
the deadlock and commence the debate on the high-voltage demonetisation scheme at the earliest.

"Shunya se hum brahmand tak ja saktey haen (We can start from zero and reach up to the entire universe)," she said referring to the Zero Hour proceedings - a time which is under her discretionary disposal.
Playing Universal game with 'zero' !

"Mein sab baaten alag rakhti hoon....(I am keeping aside all rules....because you all are neither ready for a debate under Rule 193 and nor Rule 56, my request is you can start the discussion now as I have already announced zero hour)", the Speaker said.

The remarks from the chair came after a fortnight the winter session had begun on Nov 16. Mahajan in fact was simply trying to convince the opposition members from Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Left parties to commence the debate on the currency ban and black money issue. 

Biju Janata Dal member B Mahtab said the offer for debate on demonetisation "during zero hour" by the Speaker only reflected the "anguish" of the Chair that both sides are not agreeing for a rule under which the discussion could be held. All members of the House should take the matter seriously, he said
"Every Member is aware of the anguish that you have expressed from the Chair. It is a caution to every Member who is present in this House," Mahtab said.   

From the government side, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said they were ready for the debate. But the opposition members did not buy Speaker's line and insisted that the debate should be held under a Rule that entails voting.
##'Zero-hour' is considered a significant parliamentary time especially in the Lok Sabha which came into existence when Janata Dal leader from Odisha Rabi Ray was the Speaker in 1989. The idea is to enable elected member raise "urgent issues" that require the attention of the House and the government.
##While dictionary defines ‘Zero Hour’ as the “the critical moment”, in parliamentary parlance, it is referred as the time gap between the end of Question Hour and the beginning of the regular business. But in Lok Sabha, the chair allows laying of papers at around 12 noon after the stipulated Question Hour and then gives time to members for raising issues of public importance.

Rabi Ray
Under #Rule377, matters of public importance are allowed to be taken up during the Zero Hour. Notably, in 2008, the then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee once described Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha as 'torture hour for the Chair'.

"You cannot threaten the Chair," he once told a Samajwadi Party member. 

In 2011, the then Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj had criticised the manner Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was allowed to make a public speech to the nation during zero hour on the Lokpal bill during the height of the agitation led by Anna Hazare. 

"Was Rahul Gandhi's speech a Zero Hour intervention or an address to the nation," Swaraj had asked in the House on August 27, 2011. 

"Zero hour is meant to raise an issue. Why were norms relaxed for Rahul? Zero hour allows three minutes to raise an issue, Rahul took 15 minutes," Sushma Swaraj had said evoking protest from the Congress members but the Speaker Meira Kumar chose not to react.

The 'punctured' : Hero of Zero Hour in 2011
(ends)

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