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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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Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Faces First Defeat in Congress

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal.

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Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro arrives at the inauguration ceremony of the new president of the Parliamentary Front of Agriculture (FPA), at the Clube Naval, in Brasilia, Jan. 19, 2019. VOA

Brazil’s lower chamber handed right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro his first defeat in Congress on Tuesday, the day before his government presents its most important legislative proposal to rein in a gaping budget deficit and spur growth.

The house voted overwhelmingly to suspend an executive order by the Bolsonaro government that altered Brazil’s freedom of information law to broaden the number of officials allowed to designate data and documents as secret or ultra-secret.

Lawmakers voted 367 to 57 to fast-track a bill overturning the secrecy measure and government whips were unable to muster votes to avoid defeat.

The bill must still be voted on by the Senate, but the reversal showed that Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1, has not yet been able to organize a coalition in Congress to back his legislative agenda.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro will send to Congress his plan to overhaul Brazil’s generous and costly pension system that eats up more than half of federal spending and is the main factor behind an unsustainable budget deficit.

Brazil, Bolsonaro
FILE – Gustavo Bebianno in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 29, 2018. VOA

Approval of pension reform is vital for the recovery of investor confidence in Latin America’s largest economy.

The defeat on the floor of the house came one day after Bolsonaro fired a senior minister amid a scandal involving campaign financing for some of his party’s congressional candidates in the October elections.

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The ousted minister, Gustavo Bebianno, was instrumental in getting Bolsonaro elected but had a run-in with one of the president’s sons, triggering the weeks-old government’s first cabinet crisis.

In a note to clients, analysts at Eurasia Group said the scandal indicated the administration’s political team was in disarray, but they still expected the pension reform to get passed, albeit in a less ambitious version. (VOA)

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