PM cites rising expectations, links reform to inclusive growth

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: May 21 2009, 05:18am hrs
Calling the next five years a decisive half decade in which India cannot afford to lag behind the rising economies of the East, Manmohan Singh, days before he begins his second term as Prime Minister, said that the Congresss historic victory comes with the challenge of rising expectations.

Verdict 2009, Singh said, was a verdict for inclusive growth, equitable development, a verdict for a secular and plural India.

The government has to work harder and better to secure a more wholesome mandate entirely in our favour.

Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party, Singh said the youth, inspired by Rahul Gandhi had voted in large numbers for the Congress. Its in the nature of the youth to be impatient. They will not tolerate business as usual. They expect the government to cater to their aspirations. They expect a more responsive government. They expect a more efficient government.

He announced that time-bound targets would be set for each ministry along with quarterly performance reviews. And linked inclusive growth to economic reform.

To make growth inclusive, Singh said, we must ensure that we can sustain growth. This requires new investment... creating a social and political environment in which new investment can be made. This requires better management of our finances. This requires reform of the economy. This requires revitalisation of agriculture and acceleration of industrial development. We have to continue to keep our savings and investment rates high and become more globally competitive so that we can face global economic challenges.

Both Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi sought to reach out to the Opposition. 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, said Singh. After many years of fractious politics, we should work together with parliamentary representatives of all parties towards restoring the decorum of political discourse and raising Parliament once again to pre-eminent forum of dignified debate and decision-making. We have an opportunity to rebuild the eroded faith in some of our political and public institutions, indeed in us politicians as well.

Earlier Sonia Gandhi, re-elected as chairperson of the CPP today, nominated Singh as the PM. After a meeting with the partys pre-poll allies tomorrow, the PM is likely to go to Rashtrapati Bhawan to stake claim to form the government. The swearing-in ceremony is likely to be held on May 22. Incidentally, it was on the same day in 2004 that Singh was sworn in as the Prime Minister for the first time.

He noted how the global economic slowdown hurt the country. We have to reverse this The world is experiencing a shift in the dynamics of growth from the West to the East. We cannot afford to miss this bus now, he said.

Singh noted how the neighbourhood was troubled by civil conflict, extremism and terrorism. We need a government that is vigilant and effective in dealing with the threat of terrorism and extremism...The assurance of internal security is a top priority for us. Equally important is maintenance of communal harmony and peace.