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Govt committed to ‘aam aadmi’: Prez
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

n Extends olive branch to Pakistan
n Maintains a stoic silence on Telangana
n Says infiltration of terrorists from across the LoC in J&K has gone up
n Contends that the government was committed to bringing forth legislation to ensure food security

New Delhi, February 22
Reiterating the UPA’s commitment to the welfare of ‘aam aadmi’, President Pratibha Patil today declared the government’s firm resolve to rein in prices of essential commodities and strengthen the country’s security apparatus to equip it to meet the challenge posed by terrorism.

Addressing a joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament to kick-start the Budget session, she extended olive branch to Pakistan by stating that New Delhi was prepared to explore a meaningful relationship with the neighbouring country if it seriously addressed the threat of terrorism and took effective steps to prevent terrorist activities against India.

In her hour-long address, the President outlined the broad policies of the Manmohan Singh Government during its second term and what all it proposes to do in the coming months.

She maintained a stoic silence on the Telangana issue that has sharply divided members from Andhra Pradesh in Parliament.

Talking at length on security situation, Patil said the overall internal security, law and order and the communal situation remained largely under control during 2009. Infiltration of terrorists from across the line of control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir has gone up. Even then, the security situation has improved significantly in the state as well as in the North-East, but Left wing extremism continued to be a significant cause of concern.

As top leaders from both the ruling coalition as well as the Opposition parties heard the President with rapt attention, she said the government was committed to bringing forth legislation to ensure food security. Despite a significant increase in the procurement process of food grains, central issue prices for purposes of public distribution have been kept constant since 2002. The import regime for essential commodities has been liberalised. The government has decided to release 30 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice in the open market over the next two months, and release 5 lakh tonnes of wheat and 2 lakh tones of rice through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation and the National Consumers’ Federation and their affiliated cooperatives to benefit consumers at the retail level. The government has also released an additional allocation of 36 lakh tones of wheat and rice for distribution to card holders over the months of January and February.

Touching a controversial issue that has sharply divided Parliament, Patil said the government was committed to ensuring early passage of the Women’s reservation Bill.



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