Cabinet finalises president’s address to parliament


New Delhi : The president’s address to the joint session of parliament next week was finalised here Saturday at the first meeting of the cabinet after it was expanded Thursday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired the meeting.

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The first session of the 15th Lok Sabha will begin Monday with the swearing in of the newly elected MPs. The speaker will be elected June 3, and the president will addres a joint session of both houses the next day.

President Pratibha Patil’s address, extensively worked on by Manmohan Singh, will unveil the government’s agenda for the year in tune with the policies and programmes of the ruling party and its allies.

The prime minister has already promised a 100-day action plan for his government and is expected to give emphasis to the United Progressive Alliance’s unfinished agenda, especially in the infrastructure and development sectors, and announce a fresh stimulus package to pull the economy out of its present slowdown.

A National Food Security Act to guarantee 25 kg of rice or wheat a month to impoverished families, strengthening of key social sector programmes like the rural employment and Bharat Nirman programnmes, a focus on terrorism and initiatives for urban employment will figure prominently in the president’s speech, sources said.

There will be a debate June 5, 8 and 9 on the president’s address after which the Lok Sabha, as also the Rajya Sabha that will convene June 4, will pass a motion of thanks before adjourning.

Ahead of the short session, a security drill was conducted at Parliament House Saturday to check the preparedness of security personnel for emergency evacuation.

The budget session of parliament is likely to begin in the first week of July.