- Views 1971
By Oken Jeet Sandham
The popular saying goes: “Opposition makes the Government.” One of the finest stages, if I am asked to say in a Parliamentary Form of Government,” will be “Question Hours during the Parliament and Assembly Sessions.”
The Government is, as it were, put on its trial during the Question Hour and every Minister whose turn it is to answer questions has to stand up and answer for his or his administration’s acts of omission and commission. Through the Question Hour the Government is able to quickly feel the pulse of the nation and adapt its policies and actions accordingly. It is through questions in Parliament or in Assemblies that the Government/State Governments remain in touch with the people in as much as members are enabled thereby to ventilate the grievances of the public in matters concerning the administration.
Questions enable Ministries to gauge the popular reaction to their policy and administration. Questions bring to the notice of the Ministers many an abuse which otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Sometimes questions may lead to the appointment of a commission, a court of enquiry or even legislation when matters raised are grave enough to agitate the public mind and are of wide public importance.
The Question Hour is an interesting part of the Parliamentary proceedings. Although a question mainly seeks information and tries to elicit facts on a particular subject, there are many a time lively and quicksilver repartees between the Members asking the questions and the Ministers answering them. These repartees are sometimes coupled with flashes of wit and humor. That is why the public galleries and the press galleries are packed to capacity during the Question Hour.
In Nagaland, it is so unfortunate that there were no “Question Hours” in the just concluded 5-Day 11th Session of the 12th Nagaland Legislative Assembly. Chief Minister TR Zeliang has been heading an “Opposition-less Government” in Nagaland and that was the reason why “Question Hours” were not there in the just concluded Session.
We have been reading news of the Mid-day meal crisis, non-availability of textbooks, non-availability of mathematics teachers, shutting down of schools due to non-availability of textbooks and the latest one is sacks of expired rice infested with worms were distributed to different schools in Mokokchung Town under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. The local daily, The Morung Express, had been highlighting all these mess in the educational systems over the last few weeks.
Unfortunately, the ongoing 11th Session of the 12th Nagaland Legislative Assembly has not discussed these burning and vital issues at all. Such burning and vital issues have also not been mentioned in the Governor’s Address which was presented on March 15, 2016. Some Parliamentary Secretaries and Ministers took part in the discussion on Governor’s Address. Some of them took advantage of highlighting their respective departments’ stories. Anyway, we have “Opposition-less Government.”
One Parliamentary Secretary, while taking part in the general discussion on the Budget Speech presented by Chief Minister TR Zeliang on March 17, 2016, described the "TR Zeliang's Opposition-less" Government was "first of its kind" and it could even enter into the "Book of Guinness World Records." It will also be true that it is first of its kind having "No-Question Hours" in the Assembly Sessions including the ongoing one after he (TR Zeliang) started leading his "Opposition-less Government" in Nagaland.
Any way, we had the shortest Assembly Session in Nagaland on March 19, 2016. The 10th Session of the 12th Nagaland legislative Session had 25-Minute Session. The TR Zeliang-led Opposition-less Government in Nagaland is expected to enter into the "Book of Guinness World Record" in many areas.
His explanation of all the 60 legislators’ coming together in the State was for the cause of Naga political solution is alright but the people in the State are kept in the dark of what his Government has been doing for them as there were no “Opposition Hours” during the Assembly Session. We should not forget that ours is a “Welfare State.”
See we have dozens of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) which have been flowing in Nagaland and we are not aware of it, because there was no one to ask “questions” in the Assembly Sessions.
Some of the CSS are:
1. Digital India Program; 2. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana; 3. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan; 4. Make in India; 5. Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana; 6. Atal Pension Yojana(APY); 7. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY); 8. One Rank One Pension Scheme – Benefits and Details; 9. Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY); 10. Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY); 11. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana; 12. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY); 13. MUDRA Bank Yojana; 14. Garib Kalyan Yojnaye; 15. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana; 16. Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme; 17. Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation; 18. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA); 19. DigiLocker: Features, Benefits and Safety; 20. eBasta – Features and Benefit for students; 21. Seventh Pay Commission; 22. Pahal Scheme; 23. Jan Dhan Yojana; 24. Modi’s Sagar Mala Project; 25. Smart Cities Mission; 26. National Child Labour Projects(NCLP); 27. HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana; 28. Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme; and 29. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana.
In the absence of the Opposition in the State, the people of the State particularly the youth will continue to suffer as they will not know what is going on for the overall development activities in the State as well as what the Center has been doing for them.