The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM pats Speaker & himself on back

New Delhi, May 13: Often under attack from the Opposition during the three-month budget session, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today received a vote of support from the Prime Minister.

“Aspersions have been cast on the high office of the Speaker. But we are fortunate to have a leader of your stature in the Chair. I thank you for your leadership and patience,” Manmohan Singh said in his end-session remarks in the House minutes before Chatterjee declared the budget session concluded.

Led by Sonia Gandhi, ministers and ruling alliance members endorsed the Prime Minister’s praise for the Speaker by thumping their desks.

The Opposition NDA’s grouse has been that Chatterjee has not made enough efforts to prod the government to end the impasse in Parliament since April 27.

The Prime Minister, however, put on record the Speaker’s repeated efforts to bring NDA members back to the House after they announced their boycott on that day.

Much as the budget session ended with a sense of achievement for the government, there was also a sense of loss. For, the Opposition constitutes an integral part of the government’s parliamentary system, Singh said.

To the Prime Minister, both the government and the Opposition have a duty to play their separate roles so that the mechanism of checks and balances ' a hallmark of parliamentary democracy ' can succeed. He wished that the Opposition would return to Parliament when the next session begins.

With the UPA government on the verge of completing a year in office, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to highlight its achievements. The economy was moving firmly along the path set by the reforms programme.

“Our priority is to create new wealth, new employment opportunities and prosperity,” the Prime Minister declared. While pursuing the reform policies, his government was sensitive to the concerns of the aam aadmi (common man) and many policy initiatives during its first year in office reflected this, he said.

To Singh, the biggest achievement of the government has been that it could “reverse” the trend towards the politics of exclusivism and lead the country along the path of pluralism and secularism.

“The UPA has returned the nation to even keel, to the course set by the leaders of our national movement for freedom,” he told the Lok Sabha, adding that the alliance was voted to office to provide the people with a “government that cares”.

His government was also able to create an atmosphere in which “our developmental priorities could be taken up”.

The Prime Minister made almost identical remarks in the Rajya Sabha before its chairman, B.S. Shekhawat, adjourned the House sine die.

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