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‘Vote for Congress in Gujarat local polls’: BJP MLA to Patels

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Ahmedabad: Continuing his attack on the Anandiben Patel government in Gujarat, ruling BJP’s legislator and Patel community leader Nalin Kotadiya on Thursday asked Patidars to vote for the opposition Congress in the coming elections to the 323 local bodies.

“I want to request every Patidar to vote for the Congress in the coming municipal elections. Congress leaders have promised to give reservation to Patidars if they are voted to power,” Kotadiya told IANS.

Polling for six municipal corporations in Gujarat would be held on November 22, whereas polling for municipalities and district/taluka panchayats would take place on November 29.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party has used the Patels to serve its political interests and is now seeking to discard them,” he said.

The MLA, a Leuva Patel, claimed the Congress would never do this and instead provide reservation to the Patel community that is 14 percent of the state’s population.

Kotadiya is an MLA from Dhari constituency in Saurashtra region with a sizeable population of Leuva and Kadwa Patels – commonly identified as Patidars though they are perennially at loggerheads.

“There are six ministers, including Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and three ministers of state, and 42 BJP MLAs who are Patels, but the ruling party is not interested in the wellbeing of the community,” said the MLA, elected on a ticket from Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) floated by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel.

State BJP president R.C. Faldu and three general secretaries too were from the Patidar community, Kotadiya added.

The GPP merged with the BJP after the 2012 assembly elections.

About any disciplinary action against him, Kotadiya said, “I am waiting for action against me (by the BJP), but surprisingly it is not forthcoming.”

“I am prepared to resign both from the BJP and as an MLA, if required, said Kotadiya, who on Wednesday – third time in two months – asserted at a public meeting in Surat that “it was time the Patidars taught a lesson to the government”.

“I believe there are leaders in the BJP who want reservation for Patels in jobs and educational institutions. This is probably the reason not even a showcause notice has been issued to me,” Kotadiya said, adding that “justice to Patels was more important for him than crumbs of power”.

“Look at the way Gujarat police are behaving with Hardik Patel (leader of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti) and others. They are deliberately harassing them by slapping sedition and other charges against youngsters. Sedition means attempt to overthrow a duly-elected government, Hardik and his supporters are not doing any of this at all. They are just being framed,” the MLA said, wondering it was happening even as Gujarat minister of state for home was a Patel.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP sought to distance itself from Nalin Kotadiya’s views.

“The BJP has severed its association with Kotadiya. He was an import from the Gujarat Parivartan Party,” said state BJP general secretary Mansukh Mandavia.

“He is not an active member of the party,” Mandavia, also from the Patel community, said.

(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)