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Celebrating 60 years of Parliament
Democracy is behind our growing stature, says PM

NEW DELHI: India's unflinching commitment to democracy, despite odds, is the reason behind it's growing global stature, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday, a day that marked 60 years of the first sitting of Parliament.

The Prime Minister said in the Rajya Sabha, "One of the reasons for our growing global stature in the world is our unflinching commitment to pursuing the democratic path to achieving social and economic salvation." 

Participating in the debate, Leader of Opposition in the House Arun Jaitley also hailed India's growth to the stature of the largest democracy. 

Both were speaking during a special sitting of Parliament to mark the occasion. 

Manmohan Singh said: “India have repeatedly reposed their faith in the democracy. In recent years, they are making their voice heard more forcefully by voting in higher numbers in parliamentary, state Assembly and panchayat elections.” 

He also raised concern over "repeated disruptions" and "unwillingness" for discussions” also stressing on restoring the decorum that is “expected from the house of elders". 

“It is not to say that we should not reflect the concern and the regrettable unwillingness on occasions to engage in the discussions,” he said.

The Prime Minister also quoted the first chairman of the Rajya Sabha S. Radhakrishnana, and said Parliament is not only a legislative but also a deliberative body.

“So far as its deliberative functions are concerned, it will be open to us to make very valuable contributions, and it will depend on our work whether we justify this two-chamber system, which is now an integral part of our constitution,” the Prime Minister said quoting the thinker.

He emphasised that the deliberations of the Upper House have “enriched” the Parliamentary system. 

"I have been a proud member of this august house for the past 21 years. I have personally witnessed and participated in some very enriching and lively debates in this august House. This House has always been a repository of wisdom that has proved invaluable to the functioning of our parliamentary democracy," Manmohan Singh said.

Participating in the debate, Jaitley said, "Social justice, elimination of poverty, healthcare, women's empowerment, these are all greater challenges in the decades to come," Jaitley said while speaking in the Upper House in a special sitting to mark 60 years of the Lok Sabha. 

"We still continue to face the curse of terrorism and insurgency. Let us resolve there will be no politics in these issues. We will not only eliminate but sense will be that those who rebel outside the system one day, we will get them within the system," he said. 

He also paid tribute to those security officials who lost their lives in the attack on Parliament in December 2001.

"The last 60 years have seen collapse of many democracies. For a poor country, it is more difficult to sustain a democracy. From poverty, we have come to being a developing nation," Jaitley said.

"Not only did we survive, we have the distinction of becoming world's largest democracy," the Leader of Opposition added. — IANS



Sulking Yeddyurappa praises Sonia, Cong

BANGALORE: In an embarrassment to BJP, sulking former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Sunday praised Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her party for being supportive of leaders facing trouble "unlike" his own party.

Upping the ante, Yeddyurappa also attacked his successor Sadananda Gowda calling him a "betrayer" for not vacating the chief ministership in six months to pave the way for his return to the post from which he quit after the Lokayukta report on illegal mining indicted him in July last year.

Yeddyurappa's outburst came as the ruling BJP was hit by a fresh crisis after nine ministers loyal to him submitted their resignations to him on Saturday and gunned for Gowda's removal.

"I have to praise Sonia Gandhi. I noticed that the Congress party and its people are united and supportive if any one of their party members gets into trouble. They help each other and resolve the problems," he said addressing a gathering at a function in Bangalore. 

Venting his anger over the BJP not supporting him after the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe into his alleged involvement in illegal mining during his tenure, Yeddyurappa said: "In Congress whenever a prominent leader faces allegations, that party rises to protect him and tell people that law will take its own course."

"But in BJP, people will be waiting for a person to get into problems and to sideline him. In BJP, people try to pull the chair and grab someone else's position also," he said.

The 70-year-old Lingayat strongman, who is entangled in a spate of corruption cases, has made repeated attempts to regain chief ministership but the central leadership had made it clear that he has to come clean in the charges levelled against him for his reinstatement. — PTI




AI pilots' strike enters 6th day, 20 international flights cancelled

NEW DELHI: With Air India pilots not budging from their position, their agitation entered the sixth day today leading to cancellation of 20 international flights, causing inconvenience to the hundreds of passengers. 

"Pilots have not reported for work. We have had to cancel 20 flights from Delhi and Mumbai," an Air India official said. 

Hundreds of passengers were stranded following the flight cancellations. The passengers alleged they had not been given the refund by the airline against their booked tickets after the cancellation of the flights. 

The airline management has sacked 71 pilots and also sought cancellation of the flying licenses of 11 office- bearers of the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG), which is spearheading the agitation. 

DGCA had yesterday issued show-cause notices to 11 pilots of the IPG after the airline management sought cancellation of their flying licences. 

Over 200 pilots owing alligience to IPG are on strike since Tuesday, badly disrupting the international operations of the national carrier. The airline has also suspended its bookings for international flights till May 15. 

Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has asked the pilots to consider the plight of passengers and said, "We are ready for talks but they must call off their strike". 

"The first priority must be to make sure that the passengers feel they are being listened to. So let the pilots decide that. Ask for forgiveness from passengers. Start the flights ... we can talk on anything after that," Singh has said. — PTI





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