New Delhi, Jan 30: On Monday--the first day of Budget Session 2018--President Ram Nath Kovind addressed both the houses of Parliament.
In his speech, the President mostly spoke positive about the Narendra Modi government by praising its work in various fronts--including Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao schemes, to name a few.
President Kovind stressed on the need to pass the Triple talaq bill in the Lok Sabha immediately and called for a "sustained debate" on holding simultaneous polls for the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies.
The main opposition party, the Congress, questioned the "hollow claims" made in the presidential address during the joint sitting of both the houses of Parliament. The Congress alleged that the address by the President contradicted the ground realities and ignored the citizen's real concerns.
"An impression is being created that everything is fine, (that) it's all about welfare and prosperity. This is against the known facts and the ground reality," Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.
"This is a joke. The presidential address was deeply disappointing and insipid," he added.
Sharma slammed the Modi government for "lying" to the nation by hiding facts and engaging in sophistry and deception. The Congress leader asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre to tell the nation why it has failed to keep the promises it had made in 2014.
Along with the Congress, opposition political parties questioned the government's claims of empowering Muslim women, taking concrete steps against corruption and mitigating agrarian distress.
President had said: "For decades, the dignity of Muslim women has remained captive to political cost benefit. Now, the nation has an opportunity to emancipate them from this situation."
He had added: "My government has tabled a bill on the (instant) triple talaq in Parliament. The law on the triple talaq, once enacted, will also enable Muslim sisters and daughters to live a life of self-respect with courage."
"After the Supreme Court verdict, the (instant) triple talaq has become illegal. We all support that. But Parliament is duty bound to examine the infirmities of the law and it (the bill) has to pass legislative scrutiny," Sharma said.
"If the Prime Minister is sincere about women's empowerment, let's talk about all women -- why only Muslim women? Let him bring in the women's reservation bill. It can be easily passed now with our support. We are asking him to prove his intent."
Speaking on corruption, the President had said honesty was being institutionalised and cited the cancellation of 3.5 lakh fake companies' registrations in the past three years.
"Why has the Lokpal not been appointed?" the Congress questioned the BJP's claim that the party is consistently fighting against corruption.
Sharma criticised the government for failing to address the agrarian distress.
"Everybody knows that the farmers are in deep distress. Agricultural growth has slumped to 1.7 per cent from 4 per cent. Rural wages are down. Where are the jobs?" he said.
"Over three crore people have lost their jobs because of the Prime Minister's reckless decisions. We know the President could not have given an account of the government's non-performance and failures, but they should not make a mockery of the people's problems."
The President of the country is a constitutional ruler and he is non-partisan. "The Congress by attacking the President indirectly alleged that Kovind is simply toeing the Modi government's line, which is absolutely wrong. The President's speech was based on facts," said a BJP leader from Bengaluru.