Thursday, August 16, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM blames Musharraf for summit failure
T.V. Lakshminarayan
Tribune News Service

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee addresses the country
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee addresses the country from the Red Fort complex in Delhi on Independence Day. — Reuters

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee taking the salute at the Red Fort. 

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee inspecting the guard of honour at the Red Fort.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Defence Minister Jaswant Singh with the three service chiefs at the Red Fort in Delhi on Independence Day. — PTI

A soldier stands guard in the Red Fort complex. — Reuters

New Delhi, August 15
The Agra summit hangover spilled over to the soaring ramparts of the Red Fort today with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, shielded by unprecedented security, blaming Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, for the failed talks.

He however, expressed his intention to continue the dialogue with Pakistan.

Addressing the general public directly for the first time after the recent concluded Indo-Pak summit, the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech pointed out that Gen Musharraf had come with a one-point agenda of Kashmir.

The 55th Independence Day celebrations witnessed unprecedented security cover in the Capital following intelligence reports that Pakistan-backed suicide squads from Kashmir were lurking around to target the function. In his short 30-minute speech, the Prime Minister also addressed other issues facing the nation and this included rising unemployment, charges of corruption in the government, the economic health and small investors protection.

Mr Vajpayee announced an ambitious Rs 10,000 crore rural employment generation scheme and added that a “rapid action force” would monitor its implementation. Referring to relations with Pakistan, Mr Vajpayee said India had left no stone unturned to improve relations with Pakistan. Picking up the threads from his predecessors, which ranged from the several agreements and declarations beginning from Jawaharlal Nehru’s time, the Prime Minister said he had made a new beginning by going to Lahore for peace.

“Yet despite having signed the Lahore Declaration, Pakistan committed an armed aggression at Kargil...Despite Kargil and cross-border terrorism, we invited Pakistan’s President Gen Pervez Musharraf for talks”, he added.

While India was interested in putting off the bitterness of the past 50 years behind and divert war resources for a fight against poverty, unemployment, disease and underdevelopment, President Musharraf had no interest in improving relations in all possible areas. “He came here with a single point agenda—to make India accept Pakistan’s terms on Kashmir....I could not have accepted this condition”, Mr Vajpayee said in his prepared speech which was delivered in Hindi.

Mr Vajpayee said India could not have accepted General Musharraf’s suggestion to forget the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration, and begin a new journey from Agra. “He kept on describing cross-border terrorism as jehad and freedom struggle. There was no question of accepting this logic”, he added.

Referring to the spurt in terrorist activities after the Agra summit, including the massacres at Amarnath, Kishtwar, Doda, Jammu and yesterday near Ghaziabad, Mr Vajpayee said the activities of Pakistan-supported jehadi organisations were “napak (unholy)” and against the tenets of Islam and humanism.

“Let no one entertain any delusion that Pakistan can succeed in wresting Kashmir, through jehad and terrorism, what it has failed to get through wars” the Prime Minister said in his address which was delivered on a firm note.

While India would continue to engage in dialogue with Pakistan, it would not hesitate in the least to crush the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, he declared.

He said the Centre would intensify efforts to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir and ensure free and fair elections to the state Assembly, which would be held after some time.

He read out a couplet for the people of Kashmir the gist of which was “The caste and land of you Kashmiris is the same. Do not unnecessarily let anything create a distance between you. If Muslim is milk, Hindu is sugar. Mix this milk with this sugar”.

Turning to violence in North-Eastern states, the Prime Minister said a comprehensive peace process which had begun in the region would bear the desired results soon.

He dealt at length on the emerging economy of the country and pointed out that poverty and illiteracy were on their way out.

Linkages to the global economy had led to a slowdown in the Indian economy at present but there was no need to be worried about this temporary phenomenon, Mr Vajpayee tried to assure. He said the fundamental indicators of the economy were quite strong.

Prices were stable, inflation under control, foreign exchange reserves at a record high, and, godowns bursting with foodgrains.

Drawing inspiration from a favourable weather, Mr Vajpayee said: “Because of good monsoon, there are bright prospects of the coming crops on the economic front. Yesterday’s heavy rainfall had cast doubts that the morning today will be full of dark clouds and the earth will be soaked with the rain showers. But, this did not happen. Clouds have dispersed and the sun has come out. We can now forge ahead towards future. Good monsoon has come with promising prospects on the economic front.”

Mr Vajpayee said with natural calamities like the Orissa cyclone, Gujarat quake, floods and famine continuing to plague various parts of the country, the government would put in place a permanent and institutional structure to effectively deal with such natural calamities.

On the plunging financial and capital markets and other setbacks suffered in the new economy, the Prime Minister said the functioning of the stock markets and financial institutions would be reformed to protect the interests of small investors.

He reiterated the government’s resolve to fight corruption in the country and added that it would not discriminate in any way in putting to trial any person, however, big or powerful he might be. In this regard, he said the Lokpal Bill which was introduced in the Lok Sabha yesterday would bring the Prime Minister in its ambit.

At the same time, he stated that there was a need to refrain from giving baseless allegations the colour of a scandal.

The Prime Minister while pointing out that the fruits of the new economic policy had not percolated to the rural areas, unfolded a slew of measures which were intended to give a new pro-poor, pro-village, and pro-employment orientation to the economic policy.

He said the Central Government would launch an ambitious new scheme of Rs 10,000 crore to provide additional and guaranteed employment in the rural areas. This centrally sponsored scheme would be called “Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana”. Under this scheme, those who took employment from panchayats to build durable rural assets would be paid wages in cash and in foodgrains. For this, 50 lakh tonnes of foodgrains worth Rs 5,000 crore would be provided to state governments every year. All existing employment schemes of the Central Government would be merged with this mega-scheme. Nearly 100 crore mandays of employment were expected to be generated through the `Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana’.

He said some kind of institutional measures would be taken to make resources available to the unorganised businesses and industries. This sector constituted two-thirds of the economy and the loan repayment record of this sector was better than that of big industries, Mr Vajpayee said.

It was announced that in order to devolve the necessary powers to the Panchayati Raj Institutions and to empower them financially and administratively in an adequate manner, the government would soon initiate a national debate to achieve this important objective, involving over 30 lakh elected representatives in Panchayati Raj institutions.

“We would like the panchayats to fix their own priorities, prepare their own plans, and to implement them with the participation of the villagers. Towards this end, we shall devise new ways to enable Panchayati Raj institutions and non-governmental organisations engaged in rural developmental activities to avail loans from banks and other financial institutions for specific development projects” he said.

A national nutrition mission to make available subsidised foodgrains to adolescent girls and expectant mothers, belonging to below the poverty line families and an “Ambedkar-Valmiki Malin Basti Awas Yojana” to construct houses for the urban poor, especially the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the Backward Classes and other weaker sections, was also announced by the Prime Minister.

On the housing project he said the Ministry of Urban Development would give a yearly grant of Rs 1,000 crore to this project. HUDCO, which would implement this scheme, would make available another Rs 2,000 crore as a loan amount.

He said there was a shortage of three lakh housing units for the families of the jawans in the armed forces. At the present rate of housing construction, it would take 30 years for this shortage to end. It had been decided to build these three lakh housing units in the next four years.

He said the government had launched the ambitious ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana’ and the ‘National Highways Development Project’ to provide all-weather road connectivity throughout the country. It was the government’s desire to not only link all villages of India with good roads but also with good telecom and internet services.

He mentioned the government’s resolve to strengthen the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, to unveil a national tourism policy before the end of this year, speedier disposal of litigations and health for all. As part of efforts to empower women it had been decided that over the next three years, all public-sector banks would lend 5 per cent of the net bank credit to women entrepreneurs. This would make Rs 17,000 crore of bank credit available for women-sponsored businesses.

He said the government would observe the coming year as the ‘Year of implementation’ to ensure that all the new initiatives taken by the government were implemented at the ground level.

The Prime Minister offered a piece of advice to the Opposition. “Political opposition is natural in a democracy, but there should be no opposition for the sake of opposition.”



Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has achieved the unique distinction of being only the non-Congress Prime Minister to address the nation from the Red Fort for the fourth successive year.


It appeared to be a case of poor synchronisation that led to a faux pas twice. Schoolchildren began to clap when the Prime Minister was referring to the needless criticism by the Opposition and also when he was talking of the general economic slowdown.


The rain God’s benevolence could be counted on the sunny day that greeted the Prime Minister today. Yesterday’s rainfall and Met Department’s forecast had people worrying about the fate of today. The sunshine after the heavy downpour was seen as symbolic of the country’s dawn by the Prime Minister.


Was the Prime Minister in a tearing hurry? He began his address even before the combined guard of honour for the National Flag took leave.


NCC cadets and schoolchildren seemed to outnumber the invitees. More than 1800 junior cadets of the NCC from the Delhi Directorate and approximately 13,000 schoolchildren participated. Back

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