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Government responsible for parliament logjam: Congress

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New Delhi: The Congress on Friday accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of being “intoxicated” with power and held the government responsible for the parliamentary logjam witnessed during the just-concluded monsoon session.

Congress-India“During the just-concluded monsoon session, the BJP government was fully exposed. Though the BJP has the mandate of the people, yet the performance of this government compels one to gather the impression that it might be a good opposition. It has proved itself to be the worst government,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said at a press conference here.

Asserting it was evident that the BJP does not believe in democracy, he said: “The party is intoxicated with power.”

No major legislative business could be transacted in either house of the parliament since July 21 when parliament convened till August 13, when it adjourned sine die.

Azad said: “The floor management was pathetic and coordination with opposition parties completely missing”.

“BJP government perhaps thinks that decisive electoral mandate automatically authorizes it to brazenly ignore the opposition and forget the niceties and decencies of parliamentary democracy. That is why it seems to bulldoze the parliament and brazen out most defiantly, notwithstanding the outrage and uneasiness in the country,” he added.

The Congress leader said that so far it was amply clear that the BJP government was more focused on defaming, maligning and ridiculing the opposition and to achieve this end, it uses all means and forums.

Asked about the BJP’s announcement to send a minister each for four Congress MPs to counter the party at the grass-root level, Azad said: “The ministers have been elected to govern and not just counter the opposition. This shows the vengeful attitude of the government.”

Azad also ridiculed the save democracy march held by the National Democratic Alliance on Thursday, saying the ruling party was trying to mislead the people of the country.

“It is no secret that the BJP does not believe in democracy and democratic traditions. Rather, it owes its origin to a fascist philosophy and anti-democratic mindset,” he said.

Congress leader of the house in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the Congress decided to walkout when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was giving a reply to the adjournment motion on the Lalit Modi issue as they (Congress MPs) were sure of not being given a chance to explain their position.

He said that from day one, the Congress was insisting it wanted an adjournment motion. “But they kept postponing it. At last when the government put pressure on the speaker, she agreed.”

“They themselves wanted the house not to function, that is why they did not agree to the discussion for four weeks,” Kharge said.

(IANS)

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Parliament In Sri Lanka Gets Dissolved, President Calls For Election

The U.S. State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena waves to supporters during a rally outside the parliamentary complex in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

ri Lanka’s president dissolved Parliament and called for elections on Jan. 5 in a bid to stave off a deepening political crisis over his dismissal of the prime minister that opponents say is unconstitutional.

An official notification signed by President Maithripala Sirisena announced the dissolution of Parliament effective midnight Friday. It said the names of candidates will be called before Nov. 26 and the new Parliament is to convene Jan. 17.

Sri Lanka has been in a crisis since Oct. 26, when Sirisena fired his prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and replaced him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. Both say they command a majority in Parliament and had been expected to face the 225-member house Wednesday after it was suspended for about 19 days.

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Sri Lanka’s sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe holds a copy of the constitution of Sri Lanka as he attends a media briefing at his official residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama told The Associated Press Saturday that the reason for the president to dissolve Parliament was the need to go to the people to find a resolution to the crisis.

“On the 14th there was to be a lot of commotion and unparliamentary activities sponsored by the speaker,” Amunugama said. “The speaker was not planning to act according to the constitution and standing orders of Parliament.”

Sirisena’s supporters had been irked by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s announcement that he was going to call for a vote for either party to prove their support.

Miscalculation

“The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might or could secure to demonstrate support in the Parliament,” said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at U.S.-based analyst group Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. “At the end of the day, he is a victim of his own homegrown crisis.”

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Sri Lankan civil rights activists hold placards during a demonstration outside the official residence of ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Wickremesinghe has insisted his firing is unconstitutional. He has refused to vacate his official residence and demanded that Parliament be summoned immediately to prove he had support among its members.

Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister. Sirisena has also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

Sirisena was critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka’s long civil war against a Tamil separatist group, which ended in 2009. Rajapaksa, who ruled as president from 2005 to 2015, is credited as a hero by the ethnic Sinhalese majority for winning the conflict. But he lost a re-election bid in 2015 amid accusations of nepotism, corruption and wartime atrocities.

Constitutional question

Wickremesinghe’s camp is likely to contest Sirisena’s move because of constitutional provisions stating a Parliament can’t be dissolved until 4 ½ years after its election. The current Parliament was elected in August 2015.

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Sri Lankan former President Mahinda Rajapakse addresses journalists at his residence in Colombo, Sept. 22, 2018. Rajapakse has been appointed the Sri Lanka’s new prime minister. VOA

“It’s totally unconstitutional,” said Harsha de Silva, a member of Wickremesinghe’s United National Party and a former minister. “Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper. We will fight this dictator to the end.”

The party said in a Twitter message that it will meet the elections commissioner to discuss the constitutionality of Sirisena’s move.

US urges caution

The U.S. State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, “further deepening the political crisis.”

Also Read: Once a Hostage, Sri Lankan Sailor Now Helps Battle Somali Pirates

“As a committed partner of Sri Lanka, we believe democratic institutions and processes need to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity,” the statement said.

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and two other lawmakers wrote to Sirisena warning that actions circumventing the democratic process could impact U.S. assistance, including a planned five-year aid package from the Millennium Challenge Corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (VOA)