Prez lauds note ban, surgical strikes; favours joint polls

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Lauding the demonetisation decision and the surgical strikes across Line of Control (LoC) as “bold” decisions in the interest of the country, President Pranab Mukherjee today favoured a constructive debate on simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Assemblies and funding of polls to eradicate money power.


The Government, he said, is committed to combating the “grave challenge” of terrorism and to ensure that perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice.


In his address to the joint session of both the Houses of Parliament, marking the opening of the Budget session, Mukherjee spoke about a host of government schemes and initiatives covering aspects like housing, LPG connections, electrification, healthcare, education, farmers’ welfare, welfare of the specially-abled, rural development and urban development.


When he referred to the demonetisation decision to fight blackmoney and corruption as also the surgical strikes across the LoC as “bold” decisions, there was thumping of desks by the members of the ruling alliance.


“My government has taken decisive steps to give a fitting reply to the repeated incursions on our territorial sovereignty,” Mukherjee said.


“On 29th September 2016, our defence forces successfully conducted surgical strikes at several launch pads along the Line of Control to prevent infiltration by terrorists,” he added.


The strikes were conducted in the wake of terror attack on army camp in Uri in Kashmir in which 17 soldiers were killed.


The mention about the surgical strikes in the President’s address assumes significance as some quarters had questioned whether the action had actually taken place. There were also demands for showing proof in this regard.


“We are proud of the exemplary courage and valour displayed by our defence personnel and owe a debt of the gratitude to them,” the President said.


He also talked about the issue of holding of joint elections to the Lok Sabha and Assemblies, favouring a debate on it.


“Frequent elections put on hold development programmes, disrupt normal public life and impact essential services and burden human resource with prolonged period of election duty.


“My government welcomes a constructive debate on simultaneous conduct of elections to Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. Funding of elections to eradicate misuse of money power also needs to be debated,” he said.

In the speech,  the President said Government would welcome any decision taken by Election Commission in this regard after consultations.

On combatting the “grave challenge” of terrorism which India has been facing for the last four decades, he said the scourge poses a “serious danger to the global community”.

India, he said, will “actively collaborate with other nations in decisively defeating these forces”.

The President asserted that the government is committed to combating terrorism and to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice.