Just 20 turn up to hear Indian prez speak

Brasilia, April 16:

Indian President Pratibha Patil found herself addressing a near empty Brazil Senate with only 20 of the 81-member house in attendance, leaving the president’s office fuming and Brazilian authorities as well as Indian embassy officials struggling for an explanation.

Patil is on a 12-day tour of Latin American countries, starting with Brazil.

Her address to the Senate had been projected as a sign of the strengthening relations between the two countries.

As embassy officials and Brazilian authorities tried to explain the situation, the president’s office was believed to be unhappy over what it saw as an embarrassment.

Brazil’s ambassador in New Delhi Marco Antonio Diniz Brandão said: “There is a change in perception. When we convene a special session we usually do not call all the members. We invite the party leaders to be present.”

Patil in her speech urged both countries to move the bilateral partnership between the government to the next higher level of partnership between the people of both countries. Brazil’s bicameral National Congress consists of the Senate of Brazil, the upper house, and the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, the lower house.