Salient points of what PM said in parliament

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NEW DELHI - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday spoke extensively in both houses of parliament, both during question hour and while replying to the debate on the motion of thanks on the president’s address, and clarified on various allegations levelled against his government by the opposition.

Here are some excerpts:

* On 2G scam: There is nothing wrong in the telecom policy (of issuing spectrum licences on a first-come-first served basis). Our government has continued on the same path and that policy has paid rich dividends. The controversies over the 2G spectrum should not have happened. But if anyone is found guilty, he will be severely dealt with under the due process of law.

* People talk of scams and if there is a scam, it must be dealt with. The law of the land must punish the wrong doers but we must not overlook also the fact of this tremendous growth of the telecom sector which has taken place as a result of sound policies pursued by our government.

* On S-band spectrum deal: The fact of the matter is that the first discussions between M/s. Forge Advisers and Antrix and ISRO were initiated in March 2003 and May 2003 respectively and continued throughout 2003 and 2004. The memorandum of understanding which M/s. Forge Advisers signed with Antrix was in July 2003. All this happened when the party to which the leader of opposition (in the Rajya Sabha) belongs was in power and led the NDA Government. The then prime minister was also the minister-in-charge of the Department of Space.

* On inflation: Our government stands committed to controling inflation. I am hopeful that at the end of this fiscal year, the rate of inflation, at least the headline inflation, will come down to about seven percent.

* On the black money issue: I also wish to assure the house that, on this question of black money, particularly black money held abroad, we are one with the opposition in saying that everything should be done to bring back this money to India because it belongs to us. This is not the issue which should divide the house. We will sit together with all parties and seek their help inviting suggestions as to how far we can move and at what pace we can move. We are absolutely open when it comes to dealing with black money. All constructive suggestions will be welcome.

We all want to clean our system of this menace.

* On corruption: Given the concern in the public mind of extensive wrong doing, there is often impatience that government should take some action. This is entirely understandable. But I am sure honourable members will recognize that government must also act with due process of law. I can assure the house that we are making every effort in this regard. No one should have any doubt that those found guilty of manipulating the system unfairly will be severely dealt with under the law.

* On Kashmir: With regard to Jammu and Kashmir, we have passed through a difficult time, particularly the last summer. But since then the situation has improved. But we keep our fingers crossed. Come this summer, I hope we will be vigilant enough to ensure that the unfortunate events that took place in the last summer in parts of Jammu and Kashmir do not take place. Our approach to the problems of Jammu and Kashmir is that we will give no quarters to secessionist elements. We will do everything in our power to strengthen the hands of the State Government to provide a fairer deal to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir, to provide avenues for gainful employment.

I have appointed a group under Dr. Rangarajan to work out a plan for providing 50,000 to one lakh jobs to the Kashmiri youth. That report is now nearly ready. I hope that once we start implementing them, these are precise proposals where the Indian industry commits itself to employ Kashmiri youth and if we can create jobs for a lakh students from the Valley and other parts of Kashmir, I dare say it will change the mental make-up or the mindset of the Kashmiri people.

* On Pakistan: We are willing to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan provided Pakistan gives up its practice of allowing the use of its territory for terrorist activities against India I sincerely hope and believe that the new ruling classes of Pakistan would grasp the hands of our friendship and recognize that, whatever are our differences, terror, as an instrument of state policy, is something that no civilised society ought to use.

* On Sri Lanka: With regard to Sri Lanka, the return of peace to Sri Lanka, we sincerely hope will enable the Sri Lankan government to pay greater attention to the requirements of providing a fair deal including political devolution to the minorities, particularly the Tamil minorities.

A large number of these fishermen were arrested. We took up this matter with Sri Lanka. The arrested fishermen have been released. But these frequent attempts of creating tensions between the fishing communities of the two countries are something about which we have to find a permanent solution. We will continue to impress upon the government of Sri Lanka that they should not do anything even if some of our fishermen stray into their water. I think they may arrest them, but they should not kill anyone of them. That is not something which is acceptable to our people.

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