Modi had asked for 60 months to put the country on track. With his 100 days agenda already at work, maybe we will get to know soon.
It was an unusual sight in the Parliament today. Prior to the arrival of President Pranab Mukherjee to address the joint sitting of the house, all the political parties were exchanging pleasantries despite their bitter rivalries.
The height of it was perhaps reached when Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached to the eighth row and grabbed Congress Vice-President Rahul “shehzada’ Gandhi by arm greeting him with a warm smile. The face of scion-could-have-been too lit up because of it. His mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi was seen chatting with veteran Lal Krishna Advani who was sitting beside her.
President Mukherjee was received by PM Modi, Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu. During the 55 minute address of the President, the packed Central Hall of the Parliament broke into loud thumping many times including those of Mrs Gandhi.
Many MPs including Chandan Mitra, Babul Supriyo, Rajyavarhan Rathore and Manoj Tewari, who could not find a seat, kept standing patiently during the long address.
As the presidential address is known to be – announcement of elected government’s agenda and priorities – it had ‘Modi’ written in bold till its very end. Yet it made Pranab Da look proud while saying “My government” umpteenth times.
Here are Five important points from the address:
- Unity and Integrity: The President’s address opened with the line PM Modi uses quite frequently – Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat. They were words of Modi when Mukherjee said: “My government will work to fulfil these aspirations, with the involvement of all the 125 crore people of this great country.” And thus, the government has also planned to find a way for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley – the “land of their ancestors”.
The government has also committed itself to work on the issue of illegal infiltration by fencing the Indo-Bangladesh border, cross border terrorism, tackling left-wing extremism and cyber security issues.
- Government for the Poor: PM Modi had made it clear in his speech as the PM elect of the 16th Lok Sabha that the “poor have the first claim to the country’s resources”. This was reiterated in the address when the President addressed the joint sitting today. He talked not only of “poverty alleviation” but also of “poverty elimination”. He committed the government to providing By pucca houses, toilets and 24×7 access to electricity and water to all families by the time India celebrates its 75th Independence Day.
- Women Empowerment and Safety: After giving most of the key ministries to women in his cabinet, Modi has put his focus on the empowerment of women by giving them 33 percent reservation in the parliament and state assemblies – an agenda long with BJP and a goal still unachieved by NDA and UPA governments. Government will launch massive campaign to save the girl child (Beti bachao, beti padhao). Given the violence against women are on rise, the government has committed to implement strong laws to protect women.
- Agriculture and Economy: As much the address included the social points, it included the economic and agricultural agenda of the government in the same amount. The government has promised a Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana — with irrigation to every field as the goal (Har khet ko paani). The food inflation is at an unacceptable level and putting the economy back on track is of paramount for the government. It was like giving hope to everyone. If the government projects itself as the government of poor, it also wants to make working easier for the business class. The government has committed to make the tax regime non-adversarial and investment friendly. There will be efforts to promote a single-window system of clearances to promote manufacturing. Labour-intensive manufacturing and tourism will be promoted for job creation. Formulating clear rules for allocation of coal, minerals and telecoms spectrum is also on the cards.
- Centre-State relations: It may be an agenda under education but the government committing itself to opening IITs and IIMs in every state looks more like a step towards better centre-state relations. The President’s address reiterated Modi’s words that he will not dictate and rather work with them. The government has said that it will rejuvenated the National Development Council and inter-state councils so that working relations between centre and state can be smooth.
Many other important issues like tackling corruption and meeting energy requirements have also found a place in the list of priorities of the government. Now it is to be seen how much work is done in how much time. Modi had asked for 60 months to put the country on track. With his 100 days agenda already at work, maybe we will get to know soon.