Sunday, April 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

NDA not a divided house: Vajpayee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 20
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today dismissed reports that there were differences among the coalition partners of the ruling NDA on the Gujarat issue and observed that discussion in Parliament on the matter had reached a “ridiculous level”.

“There is no difference over a discussion being held on the incidents in Gujarat in Parliament. Members have the right to give their viewpoint. But differences are only on the rules under which they should be held and the differences have reached a ridiculous level”, Mr Vajpayee said speaking at conference on the “Role of voluntary sector in national development” here.

Mr Vajpayee’s impromptu remarks were apparently provoked by Ms Nafis Barot, a representative of the voluntary sector, who broke down on the dais wondering whether all efforts towards socio-economic development held any meaning after the gory incidents of Gujarat.

Urging the Opposition to play a constructive role in resolving the impasse in Parliament, the Prime Minister said he had condemned the incidents in Gujarat in the harshest possible words.

“My description about the Gujarat incident has also raised a debate”, he said adding that the incident had put “us to shame” and regretted that his remarks had been accorded different interpretations.

Observing that all was not lost in Gujarat, the Prime Minister said: “It is a dark night but the small earthen lamps are lighting the way”.

Underlining the role of the state in the protection of the rights of citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution, he likened nation-building to a chariot powered by five horses — the Central Government, the state government, panchayati raj institutions, the private sector and voluntary organisations.

“The chariot will run fast and in the right direction only when all five horses run in tandem”, he said.

The Prime Minister highlighted the important role of NGOs and said the “right relationship is of partnership, in which the government acts as a facilitator and the NGOs deliver on what they promise”.

“There is also the malaise amongst some organisations to be excessively dependent on foreign aid. This can be somewhat offset if our business houses start contributing more to the voluntary sector than they do now”, he said.

The Planning Commission had identified 11 monitorable activities in which the intervention of the voluntary sector would be encouraged in the Tenth Plan, he said.

“These include all our social sector priorities such as reduction of poverty, maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rate, gender gaps in literacy, provision of gainful employment etc.”, Mr Vajpayee said.

If necessary, a structural and legal framework should be created to enable accredited NGOs to play a more effective role in implementing and monitoring government’s programmes, he said.

Mr Vajpayee regretted that political parties did not pay enough attention to the constructive social work and partly blamed the post-independence “political culture” for the situation.

“Political parties generally tended to focus on ‘sangathan’ and ‘sangarsh’, but did not pay enough attention to ‘samrachna’,” he said.

“It is not my intention to single out any political party for abandoning constructive social work. Rather, it is the collective failure of our entire political establishment. Learning from the experience of the past five decades, all those in the political sphere should realise that democracy at the grass roots cannot be strengthened without a tradition of public service and a spirit of voluntarism”, he said.

“It is important to promote a culture of cooperation among people and between the people and the government,” he said, pointing out that “development is an outcome of efficient institutions rather than the other way around”.Back

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