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Sonia Gandhi accuses Modi govt. of a ‘brazen’ attitude

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New Delhi: Accusing the government of adopting a “brazen” attitude, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday stuck to the demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and two BJP chief ministers before parliament could function.

“Let me make it clear that we are not being aggressive just to match the BJP’s aggression of the past. We have been forced to take our position because of the government’s completely brazen attitude,” Gandhi said at a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) here.

A combative Congress president said her party wants both houses to function. “But we are very clear that there can be no productive discussion and no meaningful proceedings as long as those responsible for their wrong-doings remain in office.”

“Our stand is clear and straightforward from day one. There is a mountain of incontrovertible evidence in the public domain for the prime minister to require the resignations of the external affairs minister and the two chief ministers,” she said.

She attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his silence on any issue taking a controversial turn, notably the recent ones involving the external affairs minister and two chief ministers.

She said: “Parliamentary majority does not give anyone a license to escape accountability.”

Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje have been linked to the controversy over travel documents being given to former IPL chief Lalit Modi, while Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been linked to the Vyapam scam.

“The ‘#MannKibaat’ man appears to retreat into a ‘Maun Vrat’ (vow of silence) whenever there is a scandal involving his colleagues,” she said.

Gandhi said while the prime minister never missed an opportunity to claim the moral high ground on transparency, integrity and accountability, he maintained a “deafening silence” on some blatant transgressions by his party leaders.

Taking on the BJP over its disruptive politics in parliament during the last period of the UPA regime, she said: “Today, we have to listen to sermons on parliamentary behaviour from those who not only defended but also advocated disruption as a legitimate tactic when they were in the opposition.”

“Yesterday’s agitators in both the houses have suddenly become today’s champions of debate and discussion. Memories are short and therefore we need to remind our political adversaries who are today conveniently suffering from selective amnesia.”

Gandhi accused the government of using its numerical strength as a source of arrogance rather than responsibility.

“First, parliament is by-passed and a spate of ordinances are issued and some re-issued as well. Bills don’t get referred to standing committees. Our voices are stifled. And now this numerical strength is being used to substitute investigation by mere discussion,” she said.

“This is unacceptable to us and we will do all that is necessary to hold this government accountable,” she said.

(IANS)

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Bill To ‘Secure’ Ukrainian As Official State Language Gets Affirmation

The Ukrainian language also would be mandatory in all official documents, court records, elections and referendums, international treaties, and labor agreements,.

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Activists rally outside parliament in Kyiv in support of the language law on April 25. RFERL

Ukraine’s parliament has approved legislation that its authors say will “secure” the use of Ukrainian as the official “state language.”

Ukraine’s outgoing President Petro Poroshenko has said that he will sign the bill into law before he leaves office in early June.

But Ukraine’s president-elect, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has criticized the bill as a set of “prohibitions and punishments” that will complicate bureaucratic procedures and “increase the number of officials instead of reducing them.”

In an April 25 statement on his Facebook page, Zelenskiy said his view “is that the state should promote the development of the Ukrainian language by creating incentives and positive examples.”

“After my appointment to the post of president, a thorough analysis of this law will be made to ensure that it meets all the constitutional rights and interests of all Ukrainian citizens,” Zelenskiy said, adding that he will respond “in accordance with the constitutional powers of the president of Ukraine and in the interest of citizens.”

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The bill says the language rules would not apply to private conversations or religious rituals. Pixabay

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow that the bill contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution and promotes the “Ukrainization” of the country.

“It is actually a law on forced Ukrainization, basically a total one. Its texts envision significant restrictions, and in some case directly ban the use of Russian and the languages of ethnic minorities in different spheres of social life,” Zakharova said.

The bill says “the only official state language in Ukraine is the Ukrainian language.”

It says “attempts” to introduce other languages as the state language would be considered as “activities with the goal to forcibly change the constitutional order.”

The bill also introduces a legal concept known as the “public humiliation of the Ukrainian language,” which it defines as “illegal activity equated to desecration of Ukraine’s state symbols” under the country’s criminal code.

It allows language quotas for state and private television broadcasts and says at least half of the text in printed media must be in Ukrainian.

The legislation also calls for the introduction of “language inspectors who will be present at all gatherings and sessions of any state bodies.”

They would be empowered to demand documents from political parties and public organizations and to impose punitive fines of up to $450 if they determine the documents are “not in Ukrainian.”

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In an April 25 statement on his Facebook page, Zelenskiy said his view “is that the state should promote the development of the Ukrainian language by creating incentives and positive examples.” VOA

The bill also calls for the establishment of a state-run “center for the Ukrainian language” to issue certificates that confirm the language fluency of Ukrainian citizens.

Public posts that require Ukrainian fluency under the bill include the presidency, the speaker of parliament and all parliamentary deputies, government ministers, the head of the state security service, the prosecutor-general, the chief of the Ukrainian National Bank, and local council members.

The Ukrainian language also would be mandatory in all official documents, court records, elections and referendums, international treaties, and labor agreements,.

The bill says the language rules would not apply to private conversations or religious rituals.

The language issue is controversial among Russian speakers in Ukraine.

Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine claim Kyiv is deliberately curtailing the use of the Russian language. (RFERL)