Verdict has come with responsibilities, say Manmohan, Sonia (Roundup)

May 19th, 2009 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) Riding on the crest of a huge victory for the UPA, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi Tuesday said the impressive poll verdict brought with it “onerous responsibilities” for the new government that left no room for complacency.
Speaking at a meeting of the Congress party’s newly elected MPs in the central hall of parliament, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi set a sober tone saying that the party should work collectively with all parties cutting across the political spectrum.

The MPs elected Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) and she in turn proposed the name of Manmohan Singh as the prime minister.

While Manmohan Singh said “this new mandate comes with the challenge of rising expectations”, the Congress chief said the verdict was both “exhilarating and sobering” and that it brought with it “onerous responsibilities”.

“We have won an election but also undertaken a serious obligation,” she told the MPs. The Congress has 206 MPs in the United Progressive Alliance, which has a total of 263 MPs, just nine short of the halfway mark needed to form government.

Both Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh spoke of working together with all the parties. Manmohan Singh said: “We will extend a hand of friendship to members of all political parties, cutting across the political spectrum, and invite them to play the role of a constructive opposition.”

The Congress chief stressed the need to restore the “decorum of political discourse” and said after many years of “fractious politics, we should work together with parliamentary representatives of all parties”.

“We have awakened new hopes, and it is now our task to respond to the very aspirations that have brought to us this day, to this hall in these numbers.”

She stressed that the people crave honest and capable governance and decency in public life. “We must not disappoint them,” she added.

Praising Manmohan Singh’s record of the past five years, she said that the party looked forward to his leadership.

“His dignified, determined and effective leadership of the government has been an inspiration for us all and has received overwhelming approval from the people of our country,” she added.

Indicating that there was no room for complacency, Manmohan Singh said: “The people of India have given us an impressive mandate. They have rubbished the fashionable theory of anti-incumbency.

“But we have to work harder and better to secure a wholesome mandate entirely in our favour. That is the challenge before our party and our government.”

The first priority, Manmohan Singh said, would be to “re-energise the government and improve governance”.

“We have to make the government more efficient and effective, more responsive and active,” he added.

He hoped that the new Lok Sabha would witness a more co-operative atmosphere and more productive proceedings.

“The world is watching with eagerness whether India’s experiment with democracy can also deliver development and eradicate poverty, ignorance and disease. Our success gives hope not just to millions in our country but across the world,” he said.

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