I have acted with a clear conscience: PM

July 22nd, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared Tuesday that whatever decisions he had taken had been “with a clear conscience and the best interests of my country and our people at heart”. “Whatever I have done in this high office I have done so with a clear conscience and the best interests of my country and our people at heart. I have no other claims to make,” the prime minister maintained in his reply to the two-day debate in parliament on the confidence vote he had sought in his government.

Even as Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee called on Manmohan Singh to deliver his address, the opposition created a persistent din, prompting the prime minister to hand over a copy of the speech to Lok Sabha secretary general P.D.T. Achary.

Chatterjee then put the motion to vote, declaring after a division that it had been carried 275/256.

“The greatness of democracy is that we are all birds of passage! We are here today, gone tomorrow! But in the brief time that the people of India entrust us with this responsibility, it is our duty to be honest and sincere in the discharge of these responsibilities,” the prime minister said.

“As it is said in our sacred texts, we are responsible for our actions and we must act without coveting the rewards of such action,” Manmohan Singh said in a clear reference to the India-US civilian nuclear deal and other achievements of his 50-month-old government.

The trust vote had been prompted by the Left parties withdrawing their support to the government to protest the nuclear deal.

“As for my conduct, it is for this august house and the people of India to judge,” the prime minister maintained.

“All I can say is that in all these years that I have been in office, whether as finance minister or prime minister, I have felt it as a sacred obligation to use the levers of power as a societal trust to be used for transforming our economy and polity, so that we can get rid of poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions of our people.

“This is a long and arduous journey. But every step taken in this direction can make a difference. And that is what we have sought to do in the last four years. How far we have succeeded is something I leave to the judgement of the people of India,” Manmohan Singh added.

He also maintained that the “composition” of the “opportunistic group” opposed to the government made it clear that the clash today is between two alternative visions of India’s future.

“The one vision represented by the UPA (the ruling United Progressive Alliance) and our allies seeks to project India as a self-confident and united nation moving forward to gain its rightful place in the comity of nations, making full use of the opportunities offered by a globalised world, operating on the frontiers of modern science and technology and using modern science and technology as important instruments of national economic and social development.

“The opposite vision is of a motley crowd opposed to us who have come together to share the spoils of office to promote their sectional, sectarian and parochial interests,” the prime minister maintained.

He also castigated the Left parties for their stand on the nuclear deal.

“They wanted a veto over every single step of negotiations which is not acceptable. They wanted me to behave as their bonded slave,” the prime minister said.

Reiterating what he had said while initiating the debate Monday, that the exercise was “unnecessary”, Manmohan Singh pointed to nine priority areas of his government.

These included tackling the “imported inflation” caused by the steep increase in oil prices, revitalizing agriculture and improving the effectiveness of flagship pro-poor programmes such as National Rural Employment Programme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, mid-day meal programme, Bharat Nirman, National Rural Health Mission and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

This apart, the government had initiated a major thrust in expanding higher education, launched a Skill Development Programme and secured parliament’s approval for providing social security benefits to workers in the unorganized sector, the prime minister said.

He also pointed to the new 15-point programme for minorities, the effective implementation of the Right to Information Act and the measures to “deal firmly” with terrorist elements, left-wing extremism and communal elements “that are attempting to undermine the security and stability of the country”, Manmohan Singh stated.

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