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‘Congress running away from debate on Lalit Modi’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The ruling BJP on Tuesday said it was ready for a debate on the Lalit Modi controversy and accused the Opposition of running away from it.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament House, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said if the Opposition wanted a discussion on the Vyapam scam, they must agree to discuss issues related to other states as well.

“The Congress does not know what it wants. They are running away from discussion because they know they will be exposed if the debate takes place,” Prasad said.

He said the Congress and other parties wanted a debate on Tuesday morning. “Post lunch they wanted resignation,” he said.

On the Opposition’s mention of the Vyapam scam, he said there was a general consensus that state issues are not discussed in parliament.

“Debate on Vyapam has to be with a larger consensus that other state issues will also be raised,” he said.

Prasad said issues that will be raised will range from the involvement of Congress governments in Goa and Assam in receiving bribes from an American firm, the LIC scam in Kerala, and even how Bhopal gas tragedy accused Warren Anderson and Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi left India.

Prasad’s comments came as the Rajya Sabha saw many disruptions with the Opposition first demanding a debate on the Lalit Modi issue, and later seeking the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj before the debate could take place.

(With inputs from 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)