No mention of government's road map on reforms, Lokpal
President's address to the joint session of Parliament on the opening day of budget session reflects the initiatives of the government in various fields and outlines its vision for the fiscal year beginning in April.
Click here for a .pdf of the President's Address
The speech of President Pratibha Patil to members of both Houses on Monday reveals precious little on the thinking of the Manmohan Singh government on how it intends to move forward on the crucial economic reforms, the growing chasm between the Centre and the States on federalism and the way forward on the stalled Lokpal Bill.
The last address of the President in her current tenure is at best an elaborate summary of the functioning of various government ministries and departments.
Conceding that the economic growth had slowed down from 8.4 per cent in 2010-11 to 7 per cent this year, the President maintained that it would be the endeavour of the government to put the economy back on high growth trajectory of eight to nine per cent. It does not, however, spell out how the government would reach the goal.
On Pakistan, the President said that while the government was committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue, Islamabad had to take credible action against terrorist groups and related infrastructure on its soil. External relations of the UPA government figures extensively in the speech but they are mere reiteration of known facts.
Noting that security situation in the north-eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir had shown considerable improvement, Ms. Patil said the government had always been willing to enter into dialogue with any group willing to abjure the path of violence.
On the contentious Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, the President said the government looked forward to its early enactment.
Maintaining that after the Fukushima accident in Japan in March 2011 the government ordered technical reviews of all safety systems of nuclear power plants in the country, the President noted that the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill had been introduced in the Parliament.
Akhilesh, the star
Easily the star in the Central Hall, the venue of the address, was the Samajwadi Party MP from Kanauj and Chief Minister-designate of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav.
Before arrival of Ms. Patil, he could be seen going around shaking hands and seeking blessings of members from across the political spectrum.
He also walked up to Congress president Sonia Gandhi's seat and greeted her with folded hands, bowing.
Ms. Sonia Gandhi went to SP Chief Mulayam Singh's chair to wish him on his party's success in UP. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the star campaigner of the party in the just- concluded U.P. Assembly poll, could not be sighted.