Prez Kovind bats for concurrent polls, passage of triple talaq bill

Prez Kovind bats for concurrent polls, passage of triple talaq bill

Prez Kovind bats for concurrent polls, passage of triple talaq bill

President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday made an impassioned plea for passage of the triple talaq bill as well as a sustained debate for political consensus on holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

Kovind's first customary address to members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha at the start of the Budget Session also dwelt at length on the achievements of the Modi government over the past, touching upon issues ranging from doubling farmers' income by 2022 to "significant improvement" in the internal security of the country.

In his 45-minute address, which was peppered by frequent applause by Union ministers and members of the ruling dispensation, the President also spoke about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "New India" initiative and said that each citizen had a role to play in "nation-building".

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Union ministers, BJP president Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were among those present in the Central Hall for the President's speech.

As the Opposition and the government remained daggers drawn on the issue of triple talaq, Kovind expressed hope that Parliament will soon pass the bill criminalising the practice of instant divorce.

"For decades, the dignity of Muslim women has remained captive to political cost-benefit....The law on triple talaq, once enacted, will also enable Muslim sisters and daughters to live a life of self-respect and dignity," he said.

The President also highlighted the government's "intensive efforts" for economic, social and educational empowerment of minorities.

Empowerment  of minorities:

Kovind stressed that his government was committed to "empowerment and not appeasement" of minorities.

Making a strong pitch for simultaneous elections, another pet theme of the prime minister,  the President said frequent elections not only impose a huge burden on human resources but also impede the development process due to the promulgation of the model code of conduct.

"Therefore, a sustained debate is required on the subject of simultaneous elections and all political parties need to arrive at a consensus on this issue," he said.

The President claimed a "significant improvement" in the internal security situation with the reduction in incidents of Maoist violence and the "befitting response" given by the army, paramilitary forces and the Jammu and Kashmir Police to the perpetrators of violence in the region.

Kovind also spoke in favour of Aadhaar saying the initiative had helped the government in "eliminating middle-men" and save over Rs 57,000 crore.