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Need to evolve consensus on Women's Bill: PM
March 05, 2008 17:57 IST
Rubbishing opposition charge that Congress-led UPA government was adopting an appeasement policy with an eye on elections, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on Wednesday said he was not "apologetic" about empowering weaker sections, including minorities.
"When I talk about empowerment of minorities, I don't think I should be apologetic about it," he said, replying to a debate on the Motion of Thanks on President's Address.
Marred by repeated disruptions from Opposition benches, the assertive Prime Minister said development of all sections, including farmers, SCs, STs and minorities, was necessary for their inclusive growth.
"For political and social stability, more empowerment of the marginalised sections was needed," he said adding that he was not tendering any "apology" for the inclusive growth process of development.
Admitting his government's "inability" to honour its commitment on the Women's Reservation Bill, Singh said "time has come to make yet another effort to evolve a broad-based consensus so that we can bring a bill as soon as possible".
When Brinda Karat (CPI-M) wanted a concrete date from the government, Singh said he would make "sincere efforts" to go back to political parties and convene an all-party meeting after March 20, when Parliament breaks for recess.
However, he said, he cannot say what will be the outcome of his efforts.
Not satisfied with Singh's reply, the NDA staged a walkout and subsequently the Motion was adopted by voice vote.
Rejecting the charge that the UPA government was soft towards terrorism, the Prime Minister said that terrorism was a common enemy which the country needed to fight unitedly.
"We should be resolute in our opposition to all forms of terrorism," he said.
Referring to the problem of left wing extremism, he said the Centre would provide all assistance to affected states like Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand to deal with the problem.
The BJP benches strongly objected when Singh spoke about the plight of farmers and said the distress was because of the "anti-farmer" policy of the NDA rule. "Our agriculture record is much better than the previous government," he said.
"We have taken many initiatives to script a new story for agriculture," he said adding the agriculture credit flow had been trebled during the last four years of UPA rule to free farmers from the debt of NDA regime.
Observing that after many years the agriculture growth touched almost four per cent last year, he said the previous government neglected the welfare of farmers and therefore, NDA has no right to talk about the plight of peasants.
To drive home the point that the UPA was a "caring government", he said the government had spared the common people from the burden of global increase in petroleum prices by not hiking the cost of LPG and kerosene.