Minister: Absent Questioner: Absent Chairman: Upset

Treasury benches invited the wrath of Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari on Monday over the absence of three union ministers to whom questions were put.

The unusal situation emerged during the conclusion of Question Hour in the Upper House when questions related to Ministries of Shippin, Environment and Forest and Power were to be answered.

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** Image not from of proceedings of Mar 20, 2017

Soon after Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan finished answering his question, Ansari called JD(U) MP Harivansh to ask his question on Yamuna Water Taxi project to the Minister of Shipping. Neither Cabinet Minister Nitin Gadkari or Ministers of State Pon Radhakrishnan and Mansukh Lal Mandavya were present.

Harivansh was also missing, prompting Ansari to quip, “this is an extraordinary situation.” Following this, Congress’ Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma said there was no Cabinet minister present in the House. At that time, only ministers of state Nirmala Sitharaman, Ram Kirpal Yadav and Balyan were seen present.

“Yes, I can see that. Question No. 189. Can the answer be laid on the Table? No questioner, no Minister…This is not a happy state of affairs,” Ansari added.

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** Image not from of proceedings of Mar 20, 2017

Then he took up the next question on introduction of environment tax on ‘polluter pays’ principle to be raised by Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral, who was also not present. Environment Minister Anil Dave was also not present.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “this is maximum ministers, minimum governance”, mocking the government’s motto “minimum government, maximum governance”. Trinamool Congress’ Shukhendu Shekhar Roy asked the Chairman to issue a stricture against the government.

The questioner for the third question was also not present as well as the Power Minister Piyush Goyal. Ansari then moved to the question on MNREGA but the questioner, this time Congress MP P L Punia was not present though the Minister concerned was present.

However, he could not answer it as the time for Question Hour ended by then.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 21, 2017)

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