Keeping the government on its toes by asking questions is the easiest of tasks for an opposition in a parliamentary democracy.
On Monday, our Opposition failed to do that. For the first time in two decades, the question hour collapsed: It had to be adjourned and 17 out of the 20 questions had to be dropped. The reason? Members of Parliament (MPs) who had listed them were not present in the Lok Sabha.
The issue goes beyond the time, effort and money spent in getting answers to the listed questions. It is a matter of MPs abdicating their duty to their constituents and the country at large.
While this may be an isolated incident, for the Speaker plans to write to leaders of political parties on the subject, it sets a wrong precedent. Disruptions of question hour are well known, but MPs running away from answers? That has the potential to make the government lose fear of parliamentary questioning. In a country where the executive is pretty much unfettered, this does not bode well for its accountability and control.