We present verbatim the full speech given by Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the release of UPA II’s report card in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
UPA allies, colleagues and friends.
My greetings to you all on the fourth anniversary of UPA-II
It is an appropriate moment to reflect on what we have sought to do during these past few years. Our focus has never been in doubt and we have never deviated from our priorities: to strengthen our secular ethos, to address the needs of our people, especially the weaker sections, whether they are women or minorities, scheduled castes or scheduled tribes or backwards, to pay special attention to farmers and workers, and to strive for a growing, dynamic economy that is both just and inclusive.
You are all familiar with our major initiatives, and there have indeed been many as the Prime Minister has just explained.
Can anyone question the magnitude of changes we have been able to bring about?
All states, across party lines, have received unprecedented assistance from the Central government for development programmes and schemes.
Governance is now subject to strict transparency and accountability as a result of the laws we have put in place.
The weaker sections of society -- dalits, adivasis, OBCs, minorities and women -- have been further empowered through a number of new initiatives.
Never before have procurement prices for farmers been increased as they have in the last nine years. This has led to record production of foodgrains.
Never before have so many of our children been in school and colleges aspiring for a better future.
The nation is closely connected today through the expansion of rural roads and through a mobile telephone network which is the second largest in the world with the cheapest call rates.
The world is going through a financial crisis. Yet, our government has been able to navigate these turbulent times with confidence and has shown resilience. We see the makings of an economic recovery. We expect high growth to return and we can look forward to renewed momentum in our development and social programmes.
But even as I say this I cannot hide my deep sense of disappointment at the way that Parliament has been prevented from functioning and fulfilling both its constitutional role and its democratic obligations.
We deeply regret that in spite of our government's repeated offers for debate and discussion on all issues, the principal Opposition party has thwarted the work and functioning of Parliament.
We are disappointed that we have not been able to get crucial legislation enacted entirely because of this obstructionist approach.
Parliament still has time, we still have time to fulfill our duties to our people.
I take this opportunity to make a fervent plea to the NDA and other Opposition parties.
Let us come together and collectively ensure the passage of the food security, land acquisition bills and other important bills. These are not partisan issues. It is not a question of the government versus the opposition. These bills affect the lives and livelihoods of millions whom we are committed to represent and benefit.
Apart from the legislations that we need to get passed, we must impart new energy in some key areas. For instance, the Aap Ka Paisa, Aap Ke Haath initiative that uses cutting edge technology to make sure that funds and subsidies reach only those for whom they are intended.
Corruption remains an issue that agitates us all and the public across the country. We have been uncompromising in our approach to combat this scourge. We have nothing to feel defensive about.
At the same time, we need to be aware that there has been a calculated effort in some quarters to deliberately falsify and create innuendo, to spread misinformation and untruth. We must be alert and counter these campaigns which are designed to confuse and demoralise people and thwart the government's functioning. The Prime Minister is carrying out his responsibilities with great dignity in the face of unrelenting hostility and abuse from the Opposition. We respect him, and we all stand by him.
The UPA government, our party and our coalition colleagues have all worked closely and unitedly all these years. Together we have worked hard to pursue our policies and programmes, and provide effective governance. We are not going to be deterred or distracted by the drummed up noise being created around us.
We have much to be proud of. We will continue to look ahead with confidence, knowing that the people of our country will recognise the value of what we have accomplished.
I thank all of you for being here this evening.
Image: Congress President Sonia Gandhi
Photograph: B Mathur/Reuters