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Prez for debate on simultaneous Lok Sabha, Assembly elections

President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday favoured a constructive debate on simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Assemblies and funding of polls to eradicate money power.

The union government, he said, is also committed to combating terrorism and to ensure that perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice.

In his address to the joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament marking the opening of the Budget session, Mukherjee referred to the government’s demonetisation decision to fight black money and corruption as also the surgical strikes across the LoC as bold decisions, both of which were received with thumping of desks by members.

“Frequent elections put on hold development programmes, disrupt normal public life and impact essential services and burden human resource with prolonged period of election duty.

“My government welcomes a constructive debate on simultaneous conduct of elections to Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. Funding of elections to eradicate misuse of money power also needs to be debated,” he added.

In the speech, which is the government’s narrative on what it had done during the year and what it plans to do in the new financial year, the President said government would welcome any decision taken by Election Commission in this regard after consultations.

“This is a historic session heralding advancement of budget and merger of general budget with rail budget with the first time,” said the President. Stating “that more than Rs 16,000 crore have been made available to self-help groups,” he said, “as many as 26 crore plus Jan Dhan accounts have been opened and Rs 20 crore RuPay cards were given to enable cashless scheme.”

“While 1.2 crore consumers voluntarily gave up their subsidy to help the poor,” he said, “1.4 lakh villages, 450 cities, 70 districts and 23 states were declared open defection-free.”

 

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