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Gandhigiri: BJP offers roses to protesting Congress MPs in Parliament

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New Delhi: In a bid to make up with protesting Congress lawmakers, some BJP MPs offered roses to them in the Lok Sabha. This happened while the former were inside the well of the house raising slogans over alleged atrocities against Dalits.

Congress MPs stormed into the well raising slogans against the Prime Minister and the SAD-BJP government in Punjab over the alleged chopping off of limbs of two Dalit youths at a farmhouse in Abohar, even though Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected notices for adjournment of the Question Hour including one on the Punjab Dalit issue.

While they were shouting slogans like ‘PM sharam karo’ (PM shame, shame) and ‘dismiss Punjab government’, six BJP lawmakers offered them roses.

Apparently embarrassed by their move, some senior BJP leaders pulled their MPs out of the well, but not before the latter had strewn a few roses on the table of the Lok Sabha secretariat officials inside the well.

When the House proceedings resumed, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge insisted on a debate on the Dalit issue.

Taking a dig at protesting Congress MPs, the Speaker said, “There is a question on farmers, but they (Congress members) have nothing to do with the farmers.”

When the Congress MPs continued raising slogans, Mahajan said in an angry vein, “In reality, you don’t want to raise Dalit issue. You just want to shout. This is not fair.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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Kenya’s Parliament to Nationalize Country’s Main Airline Kenya Airways

A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017

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Kenya, Airline, Parliament
FILE - Kenya Airways planes are seen parked at the Jomo Kenyatta International airport near Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 28, 2016. VOA

Kenya’s parliament voted on Tuesday to nationalize the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts.

The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth.

A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017. The airline later proposed taking over the running of Nairobi’s main airport to boost its revenue.

Parliament’s transport committee, however, rejected that plan, recommending instead the nationalization of the airline in a report debated by the national assembly on June 18.

Kenya, Airline, Parliament
Kenya’s parliament voted on Tuesday to nationalize the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts. Pixabay

In a voice vote taken on Tuesday afternoon, the majority of lawmakers in the chamber voted to accept the report.

Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph told Reuters the vote was “great news.”

“Nationalization is what is necessary to compete on a level playing field. It is not what we want, but what we need,” he said, referring to competitors such as Ethiopian Airlines which are state-run and profitable.

Air France-KLM could not immediately be reached for comment.

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The government will now draw up an implementation plan, with clear time lines, said Esther Koimett, the principal secretary at the ministry of transport.

“Parliament is our boss … we will obviously take the recommendations of parliament,” she told Reuters.

Kenya is seeking to emulate countries like Ethiopia which run air transport assets from airports to fueling operations under a single company, using funds from the more profitable parts to support others, such as national airlines.

“The government is keen to take a consolidated view of aviation assets of the country in order to make sure they work in a coherent and efficient way to support the (Nairobi aviation) hub,” Koimett said.

Kenya, Airline, Parliament
The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth. Pixabay

The committee’s report proposes that Kenya set up an aviation holding company with four subsidiaries, one of which would run Kenya Airways. Another arm of the holding company would operate Nairobi’s main international airport.

The committee’s report also recommended the holding company be given tax concessions for a period to be determined and that it be exempted from paying excise duty on all goods, including jet fuel.

Koimett dismissed concerns that nationalization could lead to further mismanagement. Kenya’s state-owned enterprises sector is riddled with corporate corpses and near failures caused by theft and poor management over the decades.

“Implementation is really the key thing … Ultimately all these things have to do really with ensuring that we get the right people in the right places,” she said.

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($1 = 103.7000 Kenyan shillings) (VOA)