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Congress protests in Lok Sabha, Speaker says murder of democracy

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New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday witnessed protests and sloganeering from the Congress during the pre-lunch session over its demand for the resignation of three BJP leaders. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan called it “murder of democracy”. download (1)

The Speaker also asked Lok Sabha TV to show the protests so that people can see the scenes for themselves.

Soon after the house met in the morning, members of the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal came near the Speaker’s podium, carrying placards regarding their demands and started shouting slogans.

It continued throughout question hour, with the Speaker making it clear that she will not adjourn the house.

She repeatedly asked members to take their seats.

“A wrong message is going to the country. You are giving wrong message. About 40-50 MPs are snatching away the right of 440 members. Go to your seats…,” Mahajan said.

“This is not the way. This is murder of democracy. This is not democracy. Please show it (on LS TV) so that the entire country sees 40-50 members are disrupting proceedings,” she said.

But Congress and some other opposition parties continued their protest.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi were present in the house during the party’s protest.

The Speaker asked SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to speak after question hour. When he started speaking, his MPs returned to their seats, deserting their Congress colleagues.

Yadav spoke amid the din created by the Congress members and said the government should release the caste census. He was supported by RJD member Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav.

As the Congress members kept raising slogans and showing placards, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu urged the Speaker to take action.

“Let action be taken. They are going to Speaker’s house…People have given their verdict and have rejected them,” Naidu said.

The Congress and some other opposition parties are demanding the resignation of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi issue and of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.

The Samajwadi Party members are demanding that the government should notify the caste census.

At one point, BJP members started raising slogans against the Congress leadership. However, they were stopped by Naidu.

While members of Congress, SP, RJD and CPI-M went near the Speaker’s podium, some other opposition members conveyed their support to the protest by not taking their seats.

The Speaker had last week suspended 25 Congress MPs for not observing rules.

(IANS)

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Democrats in Congress Ready To Take Control

This is about us lifting up the voices, the stories, the struggles, the innovation and the ideas of the people that we represent.

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Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, speaks at a small rally outside an orientation meeting for incoming members of Congress at Harvard University. Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, right, and Rep.-elect Lori Trahan, second from right, look on in Cambridge, Mass. VOA

Incoming members of the Democratic Party’s new U.S. House majority say they’re ready to turn the energy of their campaigns into real power on Capitol Hill.

Rep.-elects Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and a handful of other liberal-leaning incoming Democrats used an orientation event for freshman lawmakers Tuesday sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics to stake out some of their top issues – from gun violence to health care to climate change.

They say they’re ready to leverage their victories at the ballot box into victories in Congress — an institution that prizes seniority.

Pressley said power is about more than just how many terms a lawmaker has served.

“It’s a confluence of things. It’s about the committees that we’ll be appointed to. It’s about the values- and issues-based caucuses that we’ll serve on. And it’s about us simply leveraging the platform that we have available to us as well as our social media networks,” Pressley said.

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Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar reacts after appearing at her midterm election night party in Minneapolis, Minnesota. VOA

Pressley won election to the House by beating a fellow Democrat – longtime U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano – in a September primary.

Ocasio-Cortez said like-minded incoming Democratic members of the House have the numbers needed to press their case for change.

“We have a magic number in the House … and it’s 218,” she said. “Two hundred and eighteen is the magic number to get things done and how many member Democratic freshmen do we have? Sixty Three. Sixty-three of that 218 is brand new and 35 of that 63 have rejected corporate PAC money, 35 of that 63 is not funded by opioid companies, not funded by the NRA, not funded by for-profit health care, not funded by fossil fuels. Thirty-five are independent of the interests of corporate influence.”

Like Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez also won election by defeating another veteran Democratic incumbent – Joe Crowley – in New York’s June primary.

Ocasio-Cortez said Democrats have to fight back against an opposition she said “is predicated on us being turned against each other, of us accepting the idea of zero-sum thinking that one community’s gain must be another community’s loss.”

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Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat-New York, talks during a news conference with members of the Progressive Caucus in Washington. VOA

“We know that all of our issues are tied and are the same,” she added. “There is no health care justice without gun violence reform.”

Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley have both pledged to support Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker after Democrats take control of the House in January.

Other new and incoming Democratic House members who spoke at Tuesday’s event include Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania and Andy Levin of Michigan.

Pressley said the timing of Tuesday’s press conference wasn’t meant as a rejection of the Harvard orientation event.

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On its website the school says the sessions are designed to help incoming House members “forge bipartisan relationships and learn practical skills of lawmaking just one month prior to taking the oath of office.” Since 1972, the program has hosted nearly 700 current and new member of Congress.

“There is nothing adversarial,” Pressley said. “This is about us lifting up the voices, the stories, the struggles, the innovation and the ideas of the people that we represent. So I think it’s a good thing.” (VOA)