Tackling inflation government’s first priority: PM


New Delhi : In a passionate speech which he was not allowed to deliver in the Lok Sabha Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intended to state that tackling inflation and revitalising the farm sector were two of his government’s top priorities.

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“My priorities are tackling the imported inflation caused by steep increase in oil prices,” says the text of the prime minister’s speech which was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s request after opposition members disrupted proceedings.

“Our effort is to control inflation without hurting the rate of growth and employment,” Manmohan Singh said in what he intended to be his reply to the motion of trust that was moved by him a day earlier – a speech that had a touch of grief at opposition’s personal charges, yet one that outlined his vision for the country.

Manmohan Singh said he wished his attention was not diverted from these priority areas and added that after inflation, another pressing issue his government would address was to revitalize India’s farm sector.

“We have decisively reversed the declining trend of investment and resource flow in agriculture,” he said, adding: “We have achieved a record foodgrain production of 231 million tones. But we need to redouble our efforts to improve farm productivity.”

He said his vision, as represented by the UPA, was to project India as a self-confident and united nation, moving forward for a rightful place in the comity of nations and making full use of the opportunities offered by a globalised world.

The prime minister said he wanted his country to operate on the frontiers of modern science and technology, using modern science and technology as important instruments of national economic and social development.

“The opposite vision is of a motley crowd opposed to us who have come together to share the spoils of office to promote their sectional, sectarian and parochial interests,” he said, attacking the opposition.

The prime minister said some of his government’s programmes like the rural jobs scheme, universal education programme, the mid-day meal programme in schools, the urban and national renewal programmes were yielding results.

“But a great deal more needs to be done to improve the quality of implementation.”

He said management and governance of the world’s largest, most diverse and most vibrant democracy was the greatest challenge fort any person, and recalled his formative years which were spent with modest means and amenities.

“My conscience is clear that on every day that I have occupied this high office, I have tried to fulfill the dream of that young boy from that distant village.”