Budget session: Opposition sees nothing new in President’s speech

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Monday addressed her last joint session of Parliament before her term ends but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that the speech had no new direction and added that the country could soon witness mid-term elections.

While the President spoke about the economy, security, terrorism, relations with Pakistan, corruption, black money, sub-quota for minorities, some Opposition MPs tried to disrupt the address and raised slogans.

The session witnessed uproar by the Opposition when the President spoke about the minorities sub-quota and also when she spoke about the setting up of the Nation Counter Terrorism Centre. BJP leaders claimed that the government had nothing new to offer and the country was heading towards a mid-term election. “The speech is on what the government is doing. It Looks like the situation is building towards a mid-term poll,” he said.

As soon as President Patil spoke abut the minorities sub-quota, there was uproar in Parliament.

“The government has decided to provide a sub-quota for minorities. The government has decided to bring 4.5 per cent sub quota for minorities with the existing quota,” Patil announced, following Opposition MPs started shouting slogans.

Addressing Parliament, she also expressed concern over the world economy, but said that India’s economic growth was better than others. “My government has completed its half tenure. This was a difficult economic year for the world. The economic growth of India has decreased but is better compared to the world economic scenario,” President Patil said.

She also said that the economy will stabilise soon. “Economy will soon revert to 8-9 per cent growth path,” she said.

President Patil also assured that the government was acting to tackle black money. “Government is working on various levels on black money and is taking action to tackle the menace,” she said. “The government is also working to reduce corruption at all levels,” she added.

Speaking on India’s removal from WHO’s list of Polio nations, Patil said, “A separate department of disability affairs will focus on issues confronting disabled persons proposed to be set up. Polio has almost been removed from India.”

The President also announced that Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill will be introduced in Parliament.

Speaking on cross-border relations, Patil said, “We are committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue.”

President Patil also mentioned the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) saying, “NCTC aims at improving India’s capability to counter internal security threats.”