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My fellow citizens
We have just ended a wasted session of Parliament when both Houses were not allowed to function. The cause of the repeated disruption was that we had received a report of the CAG on the allocation of coal blocks which alleged some infirmities in the process. Instead of discussing this report in the PAC, which is the normal procedure, or even discussing it immediately in Parliament, which we offered to do, leaders of the opposition saw fit to demand my resignation before Parliament was even allowed to take a view on the report.
I feel very strongly that this is making a mockery of parliamentary democracy. We take pride in our parliamentary democracy and the tradition of free debate that it implies. Only a few months ago, during the 60th year celebrations of our Parliament, I said that the story of the Indian Parliament is a story of India striving for freedom and dignity; for tolerance and equality; for peace and progress.
We do not live up to these high ideals if we simply do not let Parliament function. The Government and the opposition both have a sacred obligation to strengthen our parliamentary system. We do incalculable damage to the reputation of India’s Parliament if we resort to disruption of Parliament to make a political point.
Those who prevent Parliament from functioning, disable the voice of the people. They take away their right to hear their representatives debate issues in a reasoned manner when the case for and against a point of view can be heard. They force them to listen instead only to voices in the street, which is not the place for reasoned discourse.
This is the road to a dysfunctional politics which will only produce agitational politics and a deeply divided and disenchanted country.
I have high respect for the CAG as an institution. I believe we strengthen it only by taking its reports seriously enough to discuss them in the PAC and in the House. PAC reports deal with complex issues on which there can be different points of view and all these must be heard fully before rushing to judgement. We do not strengthen the CAG as an institution by using its reports to prevent discussion and cause disruption.
I assure all of you that the issues raised in the CAG report are not being swept under the carpet. They will be discussed in parliament as they should be. Whatever corrective action is necessary will be taken.
We are faced with many internal and external problems and challenges. There are problems of communal tension, ethnic violence and the ever present threat of naxalism. Terrorism remains a serious threat. The nation should be concerned about what is happening in the Northeast. There are attempts to divide communities which led to thousands fleeing from some of our cities. We have to contain the forces of lawlessness. These are some of the issues that should have been discussed in parliament so that our countrymen could have been better informed of these problems and ways of addressing them.
On the economic front too we face major challenges. The world is passing through an exceptionally difficult phase. Our economy is also experiencing problems. We must work hard to ensure that the Indian economy returns to high growth. I have no doubt we can do it.
We can rebuild our growth momentum and encourage entrepreneurship by stimulating investment in infrastructure, in power, in roads, ports, railways, and telecommunications. This will send a clear signal to the world that India is on the road to recovery. This in turn will bring back the momentum of growth, generate productive employment and also enable us to direct more resources to help the poor and weaker sections.
We cannot do this if the government is constantly distracted by the actions of those who prefer obstruction over discussion. Those who follow this path detract from India’s prestige as the world’s largest Parliamentary democracy. They are unwittingly only serving the ends of those who want to weaken the country and discredit its institutions.
Our job in Government, I have always maintained, is to grapple with the problems of mass poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions of our citizens. We will not be distracted from this task.
We have had one wasted session. I hope Parliament can get back to business in the next session. Meanwhile the Government must act wherever it can without the benefit of Parliamentary guidance. I am instructing all Ministries to accelerarte their consideration of critical issues where decisions are needed to get the economy moving again.
I urge all right minded Indians to stand up and unite against the forces of anarchy and disruption to secure the foundations of our hard earned democratic and Constitutional rights.