New Delhi, Feb 26: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday decided to move as many as 54 amendments on President Pratibha Devisingh Patil's address to the Joint Sitting of Parliament.
The amendments relate to farmers' suicidal deaths and other agriculture related issues, internal security, demand for a separate state of Telangana, rehabilitation of Kashmiri pundits and minority appeasement. Briefing the media, party spokesman V K Malhotra said that there is no mention of women's reservation, the fate of Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament attack case and price rise. The budget session of Parliament began on Monday with the President's maiden address to the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.
She said that the UPA Government would step up priority sector lending to minority communities' development programmes as part of the architecture of inclusive growth. In her maiden address to the joint sitting of Parliament marking the commencement of the Budget Session, she touched upon various issues pertaining to 'aam aadmi'(common man) and said the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme would be extended to all rural districts of the country from April.
She said the government has taken various steps to mitigate the plight of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and workers in the unorganised sector. Recalling that Prime Minister's new 15-point programme for development of minorities aimed at ensuring that benefits flowed equitably to them, Patil said "the proportion of priority sector lending going to minority communities will be stepped up from the present nine per cent to 15 per cent."
Certain proportion of development projects would be located in minority concentration areas and, wherever possible, 15 per cent of targets and outlays under various schemes would be earmarked for the minorities, she said.
The President said to improve the economic and educational status of the minorities, several programmes have been launched based on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report.
She said the 11th Plan provides Rs.800 crore for merit- cum-means based scholarship for professional courses, nearly Rs.3,300 crore for post and pre-matric scholarship programmes for minority students and Rs.3,780 crore for the development of 90 minority concentration districts. Touching on various issues which focused on 'aam aadmi' (common man), the President said the government has taken several steps to mitigate the plight of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and workers in the unorganised sector.
For correcting "historical deprivations" of tribal and traditional forest dwellers, the President said the states have been asked to implement expeditiously the provisions of the landmark ST and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act. Referring to internal security scenario, the President said the overall situation remained "under control" and the government was "fully alive" to the threat of terrorism and Left-wing extremism.
Patil said that the people of the country have stood as one in rejecting the "politics of hatred" in the face of extreme acts of violence against innocent people, including those near religious places. An environment of communal harmony and amity prevailed in the country as people refused to be provoked, she said, adding that the Government would always remain vigilant against machinations of anti-national groups.
The President said the Government has also taken several steps to promote modernisation and welfare of the armed forces.