New Delhi: The 2-week long budget session of Parliament kicked off on Thursday with President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to its joint session, focusing on all achievements of the Modi government in the last four-and-a-half years. He focused only on achievements without making the expected announcements on a packet of sops to let the ruling BJP earn dividends in the elections three months away.
The sops are, however, not ruled out in the interim budget to be presented on Friday by interim finance minister Piyush Goyal. In his 65-minute address in Hindi, the President spoke of the government doing so much that no previous government had ever done. It is doing all for the betterment of the farmers by working on sustainable solutions to the issues they face.
Some recommendable steps have been taken to improve their conditions, he said. My government is working day and night to improve the condition of the farmers. It is also working to improve the income of the farmers. The government strives for a sustainable solution to their problems and to understand their every need,” the President said.
He also referred how the government has built over nine crore toilets under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to increase the rural sanitation coverage from less than 40% in 2014 to 98%. Thanks to the toilets, “our daughters and daughter-in-laws” no longer lead an undignified and an unhealthy life and the poor have been spared various kind of diseases, saving more than 3 lakh lives, the President said.
He pointed out that the government has increased the minimum support price of 22 crops by 1.5 times and ensured availability of seeds of good quality. “The farmers work throughout the year to give a record crop output. Many members sitting here are aware of the hardships faced by them and the village life very well. The farmers are not only the backbone of our economy but are the protectors of our culture,” Kovind said.
“The government has also provided new markets to the farmers. The number of scientific agricultural centres have also increased. Farmers also helped with insurance in case of any disaster or crop failure.” Among the achievements he listed, prominence was given to implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to reduce difficulties of the traders and help them with ease of doing business across the country.
The President said: “Sardar Patel with his extraordinary abilities had accomplished the challenging objective of geographic and political integration of the nation, but the task of economic integration remained incomplete.” He said it has been now achieved through the GST with which the concept of “one nation, one tax, one market” has been realised.