Saturday February 23, 2019

Don’t impose will on FTII students, Rahul Gandhi tells centre

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Pune (Maharashtra): Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Friday urged the central government “not to impose its will” on students of FTII amid protests by BJP activists here. Rahul_Gandhi_360x270_rg

Protesting against Gandhi’s trip to FTII, BJP activists carrying saffron and black flags marched in a vociferous procession, raising slogans and accused him of politicizing the issue.

However, Gandhi continued to support to the striking Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students opposing the appointment of actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairman. He said their demand was “justified” and the government “must talk” to the student community.

“If they talk, it will only increase the government’s stature… the students are here only to study. But, now their academics are getting affected… I feel the government must have a dialogue with them,” Gandhi, attired in a dark t-shirt and blue jeans, urged while addressing the media after his interaction with the students.

He added that the students feel the government is attempting “to impose its will” on the student community which can be be resolved through talks, and questioned why the government was feeling insecure by the (students’) protests.

Gandhi decried attempts by certain elements to pin anti-national and anti-Hindu labels on the 200-plus students who have been agitating since the past 50 days over the issue, and demanded to know why “they want only one idea”.

On whether he would raise the issue in parliament, Gandhi assured that he would support them in all possible manner whenever required, and lauded the students saying he was proud of them.

“The real question is — how strongly are you willing to fight this issue? I am ready to fight with you,” he assured.

Over 200 students of FTII have been agitating against the appointment of Chauhan as the institute’s chairman. They have boycotted classes and have been threatened with disciplinary action.

Some students had written a letter to Gandhi and sought his intervention in the issue, besides raising it in parliament.

They pointed out how after Gandhi recently took up the cause of students at the IIT Madras, which had banned their Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, the restriction was revoked last month.

Earlier, prominent former students, including actors and top Bollywood personalities have supported the students agitation against Chauhan’s appointment.

FTII is a premier institute for film-related studies, and has produced noted alumni like like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Jahnu Barua, Shabana Azmi, Santosh Sivan and Naseeruddin Shah.

(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)