Friday February 22, 2019
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Congress, Trinamool MPs walk out from Lok Sabha over Dalit issue

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New Delhi: The chopping of limbs of two Dalit men in Abohar district of Punjab created an uproar in the Lok Sabha which led to the staged walkout of the Congress and Trinamool Congress members.

The Bharatiya Janata Party members protested when Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia to speak after the question hour. During the question hour, the Congress members raised slogans against the Punjab government and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu claimed that an attempt was being made in order to libel an elected government.

He said the Congress members first abused an elected government by coming near the speaker’s podium and then sought to raise the issue in the house.

“Everyday, it is becoming a practice. Please understand the sentiments of the house,” Naidu added.

Dismissal of Shiromani Akali Dal – Bharatiya Janata Party government in Punjab was demanded by the members of congress over the abhor crime committed.

“ Going by the same logic even the Uttar Pradesh government needed to be dismissed over the Dadri lynching incident”, said Naidu.

“Matters pertaining to the states should not be raised in the house”, said speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

“Since the Modi government came to the power there were several incidents of atrocities against Dalits and women during the past 18 months. This is a national issue”, said Scindia.

As soon as Scindia referred to the crushing of a school student by a bus allegedly belonging to a company owned by an Akali leader and sought to blame the ruling party leadership in Punjab, members from the treasury benches were up on their feet.

The speaker asked Scindia to sit down, as Congress members gradually gathered near the podium.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy urged Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to allow his cabinet colleague Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a Shiromani Akali Dal MP from Bathinda to speak.

Congress and Trinamool Congress members walked out of the house soon after Harsimrat Kaur began to speak.

Harsimrat Kaur, the minister for food processing industries, said that the Congress protested in the Lok Sabha after a court order in the National Herald case and accused it of playing politics on issues concerning the Dalits.

She accused the Congress of trying to stall the country’s progress by stalling the Goods and Services, Tax Bill.

She said Dalits formed a sizeable section of the Punjab population and the state had the lowest rate of crime against the weaker sections.

Harsimrat Kaur said an arrest has been made in the case and maintained that it was a result of a clash between two gangs.

Limbs of two men were chopped off on Saturday at a farmhouse owned by an Akali Dal leader in Punjab, as per media reports.

One of the men, Bheem Tank, died on the way to hospital after both his hands and legs were chopped off. Gurjant Singh, who lost one hand, was admitted to a hospital in Amritsar in a serious condition.

(With inputs from agencies)

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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)