CHENNAI:Hailing President Pranab Mukherjee’s ‘inclusive spirit’ after he addressed a joint session of Parliament, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday welcomed the key aspects of his speech and offered suggestions on a few issues. She also used the opportunity to reiterate the demands of Tamil Nadu on key issues.
Stating that the people of India would hold the new government to account for all the promises made in the President’s address, the Chief Minister, in a statement here, said, “On my part, the government of Tamil Nadu will co-operate with the Government of India in order to realise fully the fruits of development for the State.”
Jayalalithaa said the President’s address had steered clear of contentious and divisive issues and augured well for the nation in the coming five years. It had fully recognised the hopes and expectations of the electorate who had voted for this government with a decisive mandate.
She said the President’s address had covered issues relating to all disadvantaged sections including SCs, STs, Backward Classes, Minorities and the specially abled persons. She also welcomed reassertion of commitment to 33 per cent reservation for Women in Parliament and State Legislatures.
“Particularly praiseworthy is the recognition to bring in a spirit of ‘co-operative federalism’, which will restore the federal spirit that had been diluted in the previous decade or so. I look forward to the concrete shape such co-operative federalism would take and using it to further the development agenda of Tamil Nadu. After all it takes strong States to have a strong Union,” Jayalalithaa said.
She said there were some very progressive ideas on education including breaking down the divide between formal education and skill development. The emphasis on sports in holistic education and the National Sports Talent Search Mission were very welcome.
Describing the Swachch Bharat Mission, which seeks to provide every household access to a toilet by 2019 on the occasion of the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, as a noble venture, Jayalalithaa pointed out that she had set a more ambitious target for Tamil Nadu to become open defecation-free by 2015. “We will redouble our efforts to achieve this challenging goal and look forward to Government of India’s support”, she added.
Welcoming the announcement of building 100 new cities and setting up 50 tourist circuits, Jayalalithaa expressed confidence that Tamil Nadu would receive its due share of Central investment in these important initiatives. On the promise that the Central Government would support the modernization of the State Police Forces, the Chief Minister said Tamil Nadu would expect a substantial step up in the allocation.
While saying that she was not opposed to the support the Union government gives to specific States, the Chief Minister said: “I would only urge the Centre to carefully consider the implications of granting fiscal incentives, especially area-based tax exemptions, taking into account the economic activity in neighbouring States.”
Expressing happiness at the indication that Goods Services Tax (GST) would be implemented after addressing the concerns of the States, Jayalalithaa expressed confidence that Tamil Nadu’s specific concerns in this regard would be fully addressed before GST was ushered in.
Pro-poor measures, focus on infrastructure, establishment of a National Maritime Authority to safeguard the maritime boundary, increasing public and private investment in agriculture and water conservation were some other issues Jayalalithaa had welcomed in the President’s address.