Addressing a joint session of Parliament on Monday, President Pranab Mukhejee spelled out the Narendra Modi’s government’s agenda.
Seeking to heal the fractured and contentious politics of the previous years, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said the new government at the Centre will work for development in a resurgent India in which corruption will have no place.
"They (people of India) have voted for a united, strong and modern India -- 'Ek Bharat-Shreshta Bharat'. My government will work to fulfill these aspirations, with the involvement of all the 125 crore people of this great country," he said.
The President was addressing the first joint sitting of Parliament as is mandatory under the Constitution after general elections that brought in the Narendra Modi government last month.
In a word of assurance to minorities, the address said the new government is committed to making all minorities equal partners in India's progress.
The address is the political, economic and foreign policy road map of the Modi government voted to power and covers virtually all the crucial areas including the need to address the difficult economic situation in which inflation has to be reined in and growth to be reignited.
Mukherjee noted that the just-concluded election has been an election of hope. "The surge in aspirations and the belief that these could be realised through democratic processes, has been amply reflected in the record 66.4 per cent participation by voters and a clear verdict in favour of a single political party after a gap of nearly 30 years.”
"The electorate transcended the boundaries of caste, creed, region and religion to come together and vote decisively in favour of 'development through good governance'," he said.
Newly elected Lok Sabha members and those belonging to the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Modi, his cabinet colleagues, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders heard the 50-minute speech with rapt attention interspersed by occasional thumping of desks.
The President said putting the economy back on track is paramount.
The government will put it back into a high growth path, rein in inflation, reignite the investment, accelerate job creation and restore the confidence of the domestic and international community.
"My government will create a policy environment which is predictable, transparent and fair. It will embark on rationalisation and simplification of the tax regime to make it non-adversarial and conductive to investment, enterprise and growth.”
"My government will make every effort to introduce the Goods and Services Tax while addressing the concerns of states. Reforms will be undertaken to enhance the ease of doing business. My government will follow a policy of encouraging investments, including through FDI, which will be allowed in sectors that help create jobs and assets," Mukherjee said.
On the foreign policy, the President said while the government was committed to work towards building a peaceful, stable and economically inter-linked neighbourhood, "We will never shy away from raising issues of concern to us at a bilateral level. We emphasise that the future of shared prosperity can only be built on the foundation of stability in the region, which requires sensitivity to security concerns and an end to export of terrorism to neighbours."
Extending warm greetings to the newly elected MPs, the President told them that they should never forget that they are in Parliament because of them. "Serving them should be our first priority."
Noting that the general elections were smooth and largely peaceful, he congratulated the Election Commission and the official machinery for successful conduct of the exercise. "The unprecedented interest shown by the people of India in the elections is a sign of progressive deepening of our vibrant democracy."
The President said the country needed a strong and stable government that could provide effective leadership. "In my Republic Day speech earlier this year, I had hoped for 20-14 to be a year of healing after the fractured and contentious politics of the previous years.”
"Standing here today, I applaud the wisdom of my fellow citizens for having voted for stability, honesty and development in a resurgent India in which corruption will have no place."
Mukherjee said his government is committed to nurturing the right environment for actualising this mandate of the people. "For this, it pledges itself to the principle of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas', which can be fulfilled only through your active participation.
"We will work together to re-establish the credibility of the institutions of democracy. My government will function on the mantra of 'Minimum Government, Maximum Governance'. In all our actions, we will be guided by the core values of our great civilisation.”
The address said the government is dedicated to the poor as poverty as no religion, hunger has no creed and despair has no geography.
"The greatest challenge before us is to end the curse of poverty in India. My government will not be satisfied with mere "poverty alleviation" and commits itself to the goal of "poverty elimination".
With a firm belief that the first claim on development belongs to the poor, the President said the government will focus its attention on those who need the basic necessities of life most urgently. It will take necessary steps to provide security in its entirety to all citizens, through empathy, support and empowerment.
He said containing food inflation would be the topmost priority for the government. "There would be an emphasis on improving the supply side of various agro and agro-based products. My government will take effective steps to prevent hoarding and black marketing. It will reform the public distribution system, incorporating best practices from the states.”
"My government is alert about the possibility of a subnormal monsoon this year and contingency plans are being prepared," he said.
The President said while India is a federal policy, over the years the federal spirit has been diluted.
Noting that the states and the Centre should function as an organic "Team India", he said the government will reinvigorate fora like the national Development Council and the Inter-State Council.
"The Centre will be an enabler in the rapid progress of states through "cooperative federalism".
Image: President Pranab Mukherjee being led in a ceremonial procession to the Central Hall of the Parliament House to address the Joint Session of the Parliament, in New Delhi. Vice President Hamid Ansari, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Minister for Urban Development Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu are also seen. Photograph: Press Information Bureau