President Murmu says Ram Mandir, eco reforms key achievements

The Asian Age.  | Vineeta Pandey

India, All India

In a departure from tradition, the economic survey was not tabled in Parliament ahead of the Union Budget

President Droupadi Murmu addresses the joint session of Parliament on the opening day of the Budget session, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi:  President Droupadi Murmu paved the way for the general election with her Budget Session speech on Wednesday, which was largely a political reachout message and report card on the 10 years of the Modi government. In a departure from tradition, the economic survey was not tabled in Parliament ahead of the Union Budget.

The BJP, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is seeking its third term this Lok Sabha elections. The President’s speech, made for the first time in the new Parliament building, had a message for all sections of society and regions and was sprinkled with political sarcasm targeting the Congress and the Opposition.

The President's speech had sections that covered the social sector, economy, infrastructure, foreign policy, sports, space and spirituality. She mentioned the inauguration of the Ram Mandir as one of the defining moments of history, prompting “Jai Shree Ram” chants from the BJP and allies.

Talking about the Ram Temple, Ms Murmu said, “There come junctures in the history of civilizations that shape the future for the coming centuries. There have been many such defining moments in the history of India as well. This year, on January 22, the country witnessed a similar epochal moment. After waiting for centuries, Ram Lalla has now been enshrined in his grand temple in Ayodhya. This was a matter of aspirations and faith for crores of our countrymen and the resolution of this has been accomplished in a harmonious manner.”

While saying that any nation can progress at a fast pace only when it overcomes past challenges and invests maximum energy in the future, the President added that over the past 10 years, India has witnessed several such tasks being accomplished for which the people had been waiting for decades.

“For centuries, there was an aspiration to construct the Ram Mandir. Today, it is a reality. There were doubts regarding the removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. Those are now history,” the President continued amid thumping desks led by the Prime Minister.

Touching the cord of spirituality, the President said the government has laid emphasis on the development of pilgrimage destinations and historical sites across the country, which has made pilgrimage in India easier. Giving data on footfall, she further said that in the last year, 8.5-crore people visited Kashi, more than 5 crores visited Mahakaal (Ujjain), more than 19-lakh people visited Kedarnath Dham and within 5 days after the “Pran Pratishtha” ceremony in Ayodhya Dham, 13-lakh devotees visited.

“There is an unprecedented expansion of facilities at pilgrimage sites in every part of India, east-west, north-south,” she added.

The President said the achievements that are visible today are the outcome of the endeavours of the last 10 years. Taking a dig at the Congress, she said, “Since childhood, we have been hearing the slogan of ‘garibi hatao’. Now, for the first time in our lives, we are witnessing the eradication of poverty on a massive scale. According to NITI Aayog, in the last decade of my government, about 25-crore countrymen have been lifted out of poverty. This is something that instills great confidence among the poor. If the poverty of 25-crore people can be alleviated, then her poverty can also be alleviated.”

It was former Prime Minister and late Congress leader Indira Gandhi who gave this theme slogan of garibi hatao during her election campaign in 1971. Garibi hatao was also the main objective of the fifth five-year plan.

Reading out the achievements of the Modi government in the last 10 years, the President said that through “sushasan” (good governance) and “pardsarshita” (transparency), her government has been able to provide so much for the countrymen that India has been able to transform from a “fragile five” to a “top five” economy in the world.

“My government has continuously upheld its commitment to reform, perform and transform. The past year has been full of historic achievements for India. During this period, there were many moments that enhanced the pride of our countrymen,” Ms Murmu said as she listed India’s achievements like the Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya missions and the hosting of the G-20 summit.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu-Kashmir, Triple Talaq, the new Indian Penal Code now known as Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita and the new Parliament building were also some of the things that she listed as achievements.

Ms Murmu said having a strong government helps in taking bold decisions. “We have seen the advantage of having a strong government during a period of upheaval. The world has been in turmoil for the last 3 years. There are many conflicts raging in different parts of the world. My government has established India as a Vishwa Mitra in these difficult times. It is because of India’s role as Vishwa Mitra that we have become the voice of the Global South today,” she said.

The President further said that in the last 10 years, the conventional way of thinking and doing diplomacy has changed. She said that earlier events related to diplomacy were confined to the corridors of Delhi, but her government has ensured the direct participation of the public in this as well.

Earlier in the day, the President entered the new Parliament building, escorted by Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, with a senior marshal in the Lok Sabha, dressed in traditional attire and carrying “Sengol”.

The Budget Session, for the first time, witnessed the prominent presence of Sengol. Adopted as a cultural symbol by the government, Sengol was taken to lead the procession during the arrival and departure of the President.