MR. SPEAKER: Now, the House shall take up the next item - Motion of Thanks on the President's Address.
PROF. UMMAREDDY VENKATESWARLU (TENALI): Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am thankful to you for giving me the opportunity to speak on the Motion of Thanks to the hon. President. At the outset, I express my sincere thanks to the hon. President for his gracious Address to both the Houses of Parliament. The Address clearly indicates the socio-economic agenda of the NDA Government for the next one year to come.
All hon. Members who are sitting in this august House have faced the elections recently, won the elections successfully and become the Members of this historical Thirteenth Lok Sabha. I congratulate the Members on behalf of myself, on behalf of my Party, the Telugu Desam, and also on behalf of my leader Shri Chandrababu Naidu.
Sir, I also take this opportunity to congratulate Shri Vajpayee for having become the Prime Minister of this biggest democratic country for the third time. Incidentally, I may mention that when he became the Prime Minister of this country, in the Eleventh Lok Sabha, he was in Office for thirteen days. When he became the Prime Minister for the second term, in the Twelfth Lok Sabha, he was in Office for thirteen months. He is now heading the Thirteenth Lok Sabha, for the third term, and I earnestly hope that he will be in Office for a minimum period of thirteen years and our Party wishes that he should continue to serve this country as an able leader.
Sir, I also congratulate the hon. Speaker for having been elevated to this august Office for the second term and also Shri Sayeed who has become the Deputy-Speaker for the second term unanimously. The people of Andhra Pradesh and the Telugu Desam Party are very proud of you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, for having occupied this Chair. We, the people of Andhra Pradesh, and particularly the Telugu Desam Party are very proud of you for having occupied the Chair.
The 13th Lok Sabha has several distinctions. This is the last Lok Sabha in the year 1999, the 200th decade, the 20th century and for the second millennium. I hope that the Congress Party will not pull down this Government in another two months. It is also going to be the first Lok Sabha for the third millennium, the 21st century, the 201st decade and the 2000 year. So, it is a rare and a thrilling event for all of us to be the Members, at this particular juncture when the country is marching ahead to the third millennium, the 201st decade and the 21st century. The Members have got the onerous responsibility that the new hopes and promises are to be carried by all of us when the people are marching onto the 21st century.
Here I may also have to mention that we are proud of the democratic values of our country and the secular fabric that has been enshrined in our great Constitution. His Excellency, Shri K.R. Narayanan has just day before yesterday completed 78 years and entered 79th year. I wish hon. President, many more happy returns on this occasion. As a leader of dalits, he has become the President of India and he will be carrying the nation or this Republic from the 20th century to the 21st century.
Incidentally, the hon. Speaker also represents the dalit community and the Deputy-Speaker represents minority community. This is the value of our democracy and how we are protecting the democratic values in this country. The 13th Lok Sabha will also be distinct that it is in the golden jubilee year of our Indian Republic. So, the hon. Members are fortunate enough to have this distinction to be the Members of the 13th Lok Sabha. The country may witness this type of an event only after another thousand years when it enters the fourth millennium from the third millennium.
The mandate given by the Indian polity in the 13th Lok Sabha is also characterized by several distinctions. It is a mandate given for an able leadership. It is a mandate given for a stable Government through coalition. It is a mandate which rejected the single party rule, not to speak about the single family rule.
It is a mandate for the federal structure, for the strong regional parties; it is a mandate for performance; it is a mandate symbolising pro-establishment; and it is a mandate against power hungry and greedy political leadership. Ultimately, it is a mandate for Indian born leadership. This is what, Father of the Nation, Shri Mahatma Gandhi had also wished; and this is what the people who participated in the freedom struggle also wished. Though the composition of Thirteenth Lok Sabha is a fractured one, the essence and message of the people is that they want stability through coalition. It is really a unity in diversity. In a vast country like India with a hundred crore population, where the cultures are different; where the languages are different; where the topography is different; where the problems of various regions and States are different, the whole gamut of socio-political and economic systems are a diversifed one. To address this kind of a situation effectively, we bound to have a multi-party system. The single party rule has failed in this country and as a result of that several regional parties have come up and they have grown. These regional parties have been looking after the interests of different States. I may also have to mention that 45 years of Congress rule at the Centre has failed to address all these problems and it could not empower the various under-privileged sections of the society. The Congress Party has pulled down successive Governments. I do not want to go back to the days of Shri Charan Singh and Shri Chandra Shekhar. In the recent past, as you are quite aware, the Congress Party has pulled down the Governments of Shri Deve Gowda and Shri I.K. Gujral. The Congress Party should learn a lesson as to what price it has paid for its undemocratic acts. The Congress Party's erosion started from 1991 onwards. In 1991 it had 250 seats in this august House and by 1996 it has come down to 142 seats. In 1998 the strength of the Congress again came down to 140 seats. With the fond hope that it can improve its numbers and its prospects, it once again pulled down the Vajpayee Government. But ultimately the people of this country have pulled down its numbers from 140 to 112. With Shrimati Sonia Gandhi deciding to resign from Bellary seat, the number has come down to 111. ...(Interruptions) At least the BJP could retain the strength, but the strength of the Congress Party has come down from 140 to 111.
12.00 hrs. (Mr. Deputy Speaker in the Chair)
Sir, the number 111 symbolises the perpetuated hoodwinking of the Congress Party for all these years. It symbolises only that. The polity of this country has rightly chosen this number to represent them in the House. At this rate if once again the Congress think of pulling down the Government undemocratically, days are not far away when the entire Congress will be wiped out from the Indian scene. I am just reminded by the fact that the Congress Party was founded 114 years ago by a foreigner, Annie Besant. So, after 114 years, the same situation has come and now probably the party will be wound-up.
During the post-election period, the Congress leadership was unhappy but the Congress leadership, particularly in Andhra Pradaesh, is happy over the fact that the old spent-forces and decayed, dead-wood leadership of Congress has vanished in this election. This is the happiest event for them.
particularly made a mention that voting in Andhra Pradesh was not against the Congress, was not for Shri Chandrababu Naidu or the TDP but it was for Shri Vajpayee. I do not dispute with that statement but once it was mentioned that the vote was for Shri Vajpayee, we can understand the face value of Shri Vajpayee in the Indian political history, in the contemporary politics.
Against that, it had inadvertently been mentioned that the face value of the Congress leadership at the national level was not at par with Shri Vajpayee. So, the Congress is having this type of leadership.
I am happy that Shri Vajpayee at the Centre and Shri Naidu at the State level have showed the results. In Andhra Pradesh, it was a clear writing on the wall even before the election process had commenced that under the dynamic leadership of Shri Naidu, the TDP is bound to stage back to power owing to his vision and performance for an all round development of the State's economy. The initiatives that the Telugu Desam Party had taken during the past four years -- ranging from Prajala Vaddaku Palana, where he had taken the entire machinery to villages, where he had created platform for interaction between the official machinery and the people in the villages, which had really worked well, to Sramadanam, Janmabhoomo, Self-help groups like Water Users' Association, School Education Committee, Vana Samrakshana Samithies, Watershed Programme, Mothers' Committee, DWACRA and DWACWA, CMEY for youth and such other programmes -- had motivated different sections of the people. In all these programmes, the major emphasis was on people's participation.
It is that particular aspect which had created confidence among the people and had created trustworthiness of our party among the people. It had also averted totally anti-establishment in that State. A political atmosphere of pro-establishment had prevailed which had enabled the Telugu Desam Party to stage a come back to power.
Sir, his crusade against corruption and criminalisation had created a tremendous confidence among the various sections across the State. The other actions that he had taken were surprise visits of the Chief Minister to the villages, the File Clearance Week, Dial Your Chief Minister etc. A working schedule of the Chief Minister for 18 hours a day have roused hopes among the people. Special programmes have been offered for empowering various other sections like Mundadugu Programme for Scheduled Castes, Chaitanyam Programme for Scheduled Tribes, Adarana for BCs, Roshni and Tatkal Programme for minorities, Deepam Programme through which ladies were given cooking gas connections. They had really created a new hope in the leadership of Shri Chandrababu Naidu who has become an undisputed leader of the State. The entire country had watched the election results. He has become a trend setter and has proved that only work culture will be accepted and not any criminal culture, particularly in Andhra Pradesh.
Empowerment of women through DWACRA movement had really revolutionized women in Andhra Pradesh. Their political empowerment by giving 33 seats in Assembly elections recently and five seats in Parliament have created silent support of women to Telugu Desam Party in recent elections. Sir, we express our gratitude to the womenfolk particularly in Andhra Pradesh who had supported us. Sir, it is the performance and trustworthiness of Telugu Desam Party and Shri Chandrababu Naidu that led the party to a glorious victory in the recent elections despite the vicious propaganda and vilification campaign against our Chief Minister by the Congress leadership in the State. Sir, the Congress leadership in the State has resorted to making several impractical promises which people of Andhra Pradesh could not even believe. So, these results have become a trendsetter for the entire country.
Sir, I may now just turn to the Kargil war and its developments. I certainly take this opportunity to salute all the armed forces for their uninstinted efforts in safeguarding our borders and in throwing back the Pakistani intruders. We should also congratulate Shri Vajpayee and his Government for taking right steps at the right time. The Government should also be congratulated for the diplomatic success in mustering support of all the countries which motivated the armed forces. At the same time, some somersault had also been done during the Kargil War. It is quite unfortunate that they wanted to take political mileage even during that period of crisis.
Their demand for ordering an inquiry and their demand for summoning the Rajya Sabha for discussing the issue could not have been acceded to.
In Hyderabad, I would just make a mention here, when the Government of Andhra Pradesh organised a big rally to express its solidarity with the Government of India and its efforts and also with the armed forces for their struggle at the border, it is only the Congress Party which abstained by giving a call that nobody should participate in that rally. All other sections of people in Andhra Pradesh participated in that rally. More than 25,000 people including school children took part in that rally, except the Congress Party by giving a call to abstain from that rally. We cannot understand their attitude as this was a rally organised by the Government of Andhra Pradesh and not by Telugu Desam Party or by Shri Chandrababu Naidu. I do not find any reason why in the expression of solidarity with the armed forces, the Congress Party should abstain by giving a call against the rally. We cannot understand the attitude that the Congress Party took on that issue.
Women's reservation has been very aptly mentioned in the President's Address. Telugu Desam Party is for 33 per cent reservation categorically in all the legislative fora for women. As early as in 1987, Shri N.T. Rama Rao, the then Chief Minister and President of the Party had given reservations in Andhra Pradesh in all the local body elections to the extent of 9 per cent, probably giving reservations for women in the local body elections for the first time as compared to any other State. Andhra Pradesh has also passed a Resolution in the State Assembly and sent it to the Government of India to enact it and bring a legislation reserving 33 per cent seats for women in all the elections. Now it is not an issue of any particular political party. Almost all the political parties have been expressing categorically that there should be 33 per cent political reservation in the elections in all the statutory bodies for women. Giving 33 per cent reservation for women is a
national issue now and it is no more the issue of any particular political party. I am happy that a specific mention has also been made by the hon. President in his speech.
I will just make a mention about Pope John Paul's visit to India which is also a burning issue in the country now. Telugu Desam Party believes in the secular fabric of this country and in maintaining the secular credentials. Telugu Desam Party believes in the right to freedom of religious expressions also. But it is unfortunate that VHP and some other organisations are creating some controversy over the visit of Pope John Paul during November this year. I wish that the Government takes initiatives in creating a cordial and congenial atmosphere which will enhance the prestige of this great country in the comity of nations. Our Chief Minister Shri Chandrababu Naidu has also sent a letter to the hon. Prime Minister to take initiatives in this regard.
I should also make a mention that when demanding apology for something that happened four hundred years ago during the Portuguese rule from Pope John Paul-II, we should not forget the yeomen services rendered by Christian Missionaries in Serampur area of West Bengal when they first arrived in the fields of medicine and education. This was amply mentioned in the book written by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, "The Discovery of India". When this was the harmony maintained at that time, it should be continued now also.
Sir, I should mention about National Agriculture Policy now. It is a much awaited Policy in the country. We have been harping on this particular aspect that there should be a National Agriculture Policy in the country. A country which could evolve a National Industrial Policy as early as in 1977 and a country of this size where more than 70 per cent of the population are dependant only on agriculture has not brought out a National Agriculture Policy. During the period of the National Front Government, they had appointed two Committees, namely, the Bhanu Pratap Singh Committee and Hanumantha Rao Committee to examine and make specific recommendations to evolve a National Agriculture Policy. Almost twelve years have lapsed. The recommendations have not been examined so far. Action has not been taken so far. It is overdue in this country that a National Agriculture Policy has to be brought. When the securities are to be provided in that Policy, the agriculturists should be given all the importance and preference. The Hanumantha Rao Committee has categorically recommended that agriculture should be given a status at par with industry. This also has not been done.
We have been hearing about fertilizer prices. We have been seeing the newspapers which say that the subsidies that are available on food and fertilisers are likely to be withdrawn. If the fertiliser subsidies are going to be touched upon, it is going to be disastrous. It is going to be certainly suicidal if agricultural crops are not properly treated and fed with fertilisers. Our country is one where fertiliser application is the lowest when compared to the neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh leaving aside Japan, USA, Germany, etc. In Japan, they have been using fertilisers four times more than what we have been using. On an average, we have been applying 140 kilograms of fertilisers per hectare whereas 560 kilograms per hectare are being applied in Japan. Even when it comes to the field of productivity, we have been realising 1400 kilograms per hectare as against 6000 kilograms per hectare in Japan. There is a direct linkage between fertiliser application and productivity of crops. If proper impetus is not given to the application of fertilisers, naturally there will be a lot of imbalance in the application of fertilisers which is going to be disastrous. If the imbalance is not set right in most of the soils, then it is going to have a disastrous effect.
I must also mention about the Agricultural Prices Commission which is not properly represented by agriculturists. It should be reviewed and more representation should be given to agriculturists for making it realistic for a real picture to be reflected.
As far as Centre-State relations are concerned, we must just look into the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission which have not been applied in the country so far. Similar is the case with the Gadgil formula and Lakadawala recommendations which need revision. It is the Government of Andhra Pradesh which has introduced subsidy in the rice scheme much earlier. The recommendations of the Tenth Finance Commission where 29 per cent of the gross income should go to the States have not been legislated and enacted. Government should take proper action on them.