Govt building New India: President

Govt building New India: President

President Ram Nath Kovind addresses the joint session of both the Houses on the first day of the Budget Session in the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi. PTI

Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday presented an account of four and a half years of Modi government, saying it was on the path of building a New India after coming to power in 2014 when the country was passing through “uncertain times”.

The 65-minute address of the President in the Central Hall of Parliament was also an occasion to take on the Opposition head-on on prickly issues such as the Rafale fighter jet deal, demonetisation, Citizenship Bill and the controversial triple talaq law.

“Prior to the 2014 general election, the country was passing through a phase of uncertainty,” Kovind said, addressing the members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha assembled together in the Central Hall.

“In the last four and a half years, my government has infused new hope and confidence among the people of the country, enhanced the country’s image and effectively brought in social and economic change,” he said.

The President said his government has been able to win immeasurable affection and trust of people. “The main goal of my government is to improve the life of every Indian,” Kovind said.

Seeking to blunt Opposition attacks on his government, the President lauded demonetisation as an important step in tackling black money and corruption, welcomed the induction of Rafale fighter aircraft “in the coming months” to strengthen the strike capability of the air force and asserted that the Citizenship Amendment Bill, that has fanned emotions in the Northeast, will help those victims who were compelled to seek refuge in India.

On the triple talaq bill, which couldn't be introduced in the Rajya Sabha due to stiff opposition after its passage by the Lok Sabha, the President said his government was striving hard to get it passed to “liberate Muslim daughters” from a life of fear and anxiety.

Kovind's speech was marked by repeated thumping of desks by members of the BJP and its allies and reached a crescendo when the President referred to the surgical strike across the LoC in the aftermath of the 2016 Uri terror attack.

The President peppered his speech with quotes from Basavanna, Thiruvalluvar and Sant Ravidas which was welcomed by members from respective regions.

He reiterated the government's commitment to doubling farmers' income by 2022 and listed measures taken during its tenure.

On the economic front, he said India's contribution to global economy has increased from 2.6% in 2014 to 3.3% in 2017 on the back of high growth rate during the last four and a half years. Kovind said the country's GDP has been growing at a rate of 7.3% on an average, making India the sixth largest economy in the world.