NEW DELHI, Feb 10: Seizing the opportunity of bidding farewell to the 17th Lok Sabha which concluded its last session on Saturday before going to the polls, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a special address to the House virtually launching his party’s election campaign by enumerating the achievements of his government in the last five years.
In his special address, Mr Modi claimed that the 17th Lok Sabha “achieved what generations waited for.” “These five years were about reform, perform and transform in country… Many reforms, that were game-changers, happened during this year.”
The country was “moving towards a change,” he said citing multiple issues from the scrapping of Article 370 and penalising Triple Talaq to hosting the prestigious G20 meet. The long list, which also included Data protection bill, stringent laws to fight terror, removal of obsolete laws and women’s reservation bill as the achievements of the government — started with the new parliament building and the opening of the parliament library to the public.
“Everyone said we needed a new building. Everyone wanted it, but there was never a decision on it. We decided on it and owing to that we are sitting in the new Parliament today,” PM Modi said. He also spoke of the focus on marginalised people including transgenders, 17,000 of whom “received identity cards”. “We gave Padma awards to transgenders,” he added.
Referring to the Covid pandemic, PM Modi said the last five years have seen the “biggest crisis of the century” and Speaker Om Birla made arrangements so that parliamentary work is not hampered while ensuring the dignity of the House. The high point, though, was the scrapping of Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir its special status.
“Many generations dreamed of one constitution but this house scrapped Article 370. People who had a role in creating the constitution must be blessing us today. The people of Kashmir were distant from social justice. Today, we took it to them,” he said.
Asserting that a significant amount of work has been done towards helping those who are on the edges of society, the Prime Minister pointed out that the transgender community, which felt disrespected, has been given an identity. “Those who were always on the edges, whose wellbeing was not a concern to anybody, have now felt the presence of government. When free (vaccination) injections were given during Covid, belief was instilled in people… No one should feel helpless,” the Prime Minister said during his address, in Hindi, in the Lok Sabha on Saturday.
“The transgender community always felt disrespected… and people would avoid these issues. Members of the 17th Lok Sabha expressed concern for them and sought to ensure a better life for them. The world discusses what India has done for transgenders… We have given transgenders an identity. As many as 16,000-17,000 from the community have been given identity cards,” he added.
Mr Modi pointed out that people from the transgender community have taken loans under the Mudra scheme and started businesses. “We have given Padma Awards to transgenders. They have started receiving the benefits of various government schemes that they didn’t before. They are now living lives of respect,” he said.
In 2019, Bharatnatyam dancer Narthaki Nataraj became the first transgender person to be awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour. The Padma Shri was conferred on transgender folk dancer Manjamma Jogati – the first transgender president of the Karnataka Janapada Academy – in 2021.
“The country has moved towards big changes at a fast pace and all members of the House made an important contribution. Such works were completed for which people had waited for centuries,” the Prime Minister said in the final session before the Lok Sabha polls. “Several challenges were met and the country was given an appropriate direction,” Mr Modi said.
“These five years have been of reform, perform and transform. It is rare that we reform, perform and also see transformation. The country will keep blessing the 17th Lok Sabha,” he said. The Prime Minister thanked MPs and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
“You [Birla] always had a smile on your face no matter what happens. You led this House in an impartial manner and I laud you for it. There were times of anger and accusations but you handled these situations with patience and ran the house wisely,” Mr Modi said hailing Mr Birla.
He said the 17th Lok Sabha saw 97% productivity. “We are moving towards the end of the 17th Lok Sabha and we resolve that the productivity should go beyond 100 per cent in the 18th Lok Sabha,” Mr Modi said.
The Lok Sabha was later adjourned sine die.