Mum’s the word for 22 Punjab MLAs in House

With the fourth assembly session of the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government set to begin on Friday, it has emerged that 22 legislators, including Shiromani Akali Dal leaders and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal besides 20 Congress MLAs, have yet to raise a question in the House since it was constituted in March 2017.

Data collected under the right to information (RTI) Act shows that the SAD’s Badals and Congress legislators OP Soni, who is now a minister, Amreek Singh Dhillon, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Arun Dogra, Inderbir Bolaria, Sushil Kumar Rinku, Sukhjeet Singh, Sukhbinder Sarkaria (now minister), Sanjeev Talwar, Sham Sundar Arora (now minister), Sunil Datti, Chaudhary Surinder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh Danny Bandala, Khushaldeep Singh Kikki Dhillon, Gurpreet Singh, Pargat Singh, Preetam Kotbhai, Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa, Raj Kumar Verka, and Ramanjeet Singh Sahota Sikki did not ask a single question in all three earlier sessions.

Barring ministers, all members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) are entitled to pose queries during question hour at the start of the day’s proceedings in the assembly.

Yet 35 MLAs didn’t ask a single question in the first session, while 72 remained silent in the second session and 39 stayed mum in the last session.

Of the two parties in the opposition, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has a better tally in raising issues as compared to the SAD. In the first session, all AAP MLAs except HS Phoolka asked questions. In second session, nine AAP MLAs did not raise any question. Lok Insaaf party leader Simranjeet Singh Bains has asked only 7 questions in three sessions.

When asked why he had yet to raise a query during question hour, Jandiala MLA Bandala said, “I’ve given speeches in the first and second sessions and covered burning issues. I’m lucky I was among the few the party considered fit for this job. I ask relevant questions and take part in discussions. But it is not fair to judge an MLA on the basis of number of questions he or she asks in the House.”

Kultar Sandhwan had most queries

The data shows Kultar Singh Sandhwan, a first time AAP MLA from Kotkapura, asked the maximum number of 107 questions in the three sessions.

“Whenever I meet workers, I enquire about their concerns and grievances. I make it a point to raise them in the session. Though I’m ready with 65 questions in the fourth session, I’m not satisfied with the work in the assembly as I feel there has not been sufficient follow-up. People have elected us to raise their issues and everyone should do this,” he says.

He is not satisfied with the three-day session convened. “The government is trying to defend itself by holding such a short session. The party has given me the duty to raise the issue of the Bargari sacrilege,” he adds.

Jaitu legislator Baldev Singh, who is second in terms of the number of questions asked in the House, says, “We don’t get enough time to ask questions. It is unfortunate that the government has further reduced the duration of the session. I will also raise the Bargari sacrilege issue as the village is in my constituency.”

Cheema scores over Khaira

The newly appointed leader of opposition, Harpal Singh Cheema of the AAP, surpasses his predecessor and rebel AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira in terms of the number of questions asked. Cheema asked 69 questions in the past three sessions as compared to Khaira’s total of 32 questions.

Legislators can ask two types of questions in the assembly: Starredand unstarred. Answers to starred questions are given orally, while written answers have to be provided by the minister concerned for unstarred ones.

Data shows that most legislators prefer to ask starred questions.

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 10:49 IST

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